With the growing need to reduce carbon emissions and embrace green energy, electric vehicles have become increasingly popular. However, two key challenges continue to hinder their widespread adoption: the infrastructure for Electric-Vehicle (EV) charging and the time required for the charging process.
There is a need for increased investment in Electric Vehicle infrastructure. EV charging duration is still a challenge compared to the five-minute refueling of fossil fuel vehicles. Increased battery capacity is helping, but faster charging is more expensive, and the most accessible home-based charging is slow.
This article will explore the infrastructure and time required for EV charging and discuss ways to overcome these challenges.
What Infrastructure Means in EV Charging
The infrastructure for electric vehicle (EV) charging is a critical component that poses several challenges.
The availability and accessibility of charging stations are critical aspects of the EV infrastructure. Currently, the number of charging stations is limited, posing a challenge for EV owners.
Although private charging stations are available, the scarcity of public charging stations is noticeable, and their distribution is unevenly spread across different locations.
As the number of EV owners increases, the demand for public charging stations will rise, causing the installation of more charging stations to support zero-emission vehicles.
The cost of charging an electric vehicle is another formidable obstacle. Public charging stations are costly, with users paying up to twice as much as using a private charger.
Mitigating this challenge is paramount to achieving fair access to public charging stations, which is crucial in motivating more individuals to transition to EVs.
However, the current framework of the public charging system does not provide a viable business opportunity for institutions seeking to invest in this area.
The lack of incentives has discouraged private sector investment in public charging infrastructure, which has contributed to the high cost of charging and limited availability of public charging stations.
Increasing the business opportunities for charging infrastructure can encourage more investment, which would lead to lower costs and greater availability of charging stations.
Ultimately, this would speed up the adoption of EVs across the country.
Components of Charging Infrastructure
The components of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles typically include:
- Charging stations
- Charging cables
- Power electronics
- Communication equipment
- Energy management systems
Some charging stations also incorporate payment processing and user authentication systems.
EV charging infrastructure may require grid infrastructure upgrades to support higher levels of power delivery, especially for fast charging stations.
We recommend you read this article we wrote discussing challenges that the future of electric vehicles may face because of the current state of the U.S. power grid. The article argues that the power grid needs to be modernized and strengthened to support the increased demand for electricity that will come with the widespread adoption of electric vehicles.
Market Size of EV Charging Infrastructure
Per a report published by ReportLinker, the current market size of electric vehicle charging stations stands at $14.49 billion as of 2021. The market is projected to reach a substantial value of $128.13 billion by 2030, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 28.2%.
This growth is being driven by factors such as:
- Government initiatives to promote EV adoption
- The increasing demand for sustainable transportation
- Advancements in charging technology
The Role of Charging Ports in EV Charging
The surge in the number of electric vehicles plying the roads prompts a parallel rise in the demand for charging infrastructure, resulting in an upswing in electricity consumption. To ensure a continuous electricity supply, charging stations must be connected to the high-grid electricity system.
According to McKinsey & Company, by 2030, it is estimated that the electricity demand for charging EVs will surge from 11 billion kWh to 230 billion kWh, making it critical to increase the electricity supply to support EVs.
It is essential to set up different infrastructure setups to cater to various types of vehicles, especially buses. Bus depots would be required to serve electric buses, while charging stations can be set up in various locations, such as:
- Public buildings
- Apartment complexes
The longevity of batteries and charging duration make up crucial determinants that affect the acquisition and operation of electric vehicles.
One of the attractive features of EVs is their ability to store energy over a long period. EVs with high battery life are more attractive than those with lower battery life. The battery capacity is a significant part of an electric vehicle’s cost, which affects pricing and usage.
The battery capacity is based on either the gross or net capacity of the EV, where gross capacity is the theoretical energy that a set of batteries can hold. Net capacity is the actual energy the car uses to move.
The net capacity of the battery is crucial since it determines the energy available to the driver. However, some factors also affect the rate at which the battery is used. These include:
Most EVs require between 20 to 30 kilowatts for movement, and a 60kWH battery would provide about three hours of travel time.
EV manufacturers are investing in longer-lasting batteries to improve the EV user experience. However, the time required to charge EVs remains a crucial factor affecting EV usage.
Types of EV Charging Systems
In the realm of EV charging, there are different charging systems that affect the time to fully charge an EV battery. These systems are categorized based on their battery charging rate.
We also have a product review article discussing their attributes and cost titled “Electric Car Chargers Level 1, 2, & DC Fast” if you are interested.
These systems include:
Level 1 EV Charging
Level 1 charging operates at an output of 120 volts. It typically comes with the vehicle’s charging connector at no extra cost, allowing EV owners to charge their cars from the comfort of their homes or other locations where 120 volts are available.
However, Level 1 charging is quite slow, taking around 40 to 50 hours to fully charge an EV battery from zero to full capacity, despite the convenience it offers.
On average, Level 1 charging provides only 3-5 miles (5-8 km) of range per hour of charging, making it a very time-consuming process.
Level 2 EV Charging
This charging system can deliver up to 240 volts, a voltage typically accessible in most homes and offices, enabling overnight charging.
For this system to work, Level 2 equipment installation is necessary if the home or office has access to a 240-volt electrical supply. Places with less than 240 volts of electrical supply may require an additional 40-AMP circuit in line with the National Electric Code before installing Level 2 charging equipment.
Comparable to Level 1, the J1772 connector is a viable option for charging vehicles, taking approximately 4 to 10 hours to charge a vehicle from zero to full charge.
The charging system can easily be installed at home, workplaces, or public spaces, with one hour of charging providing 25 miles to the vehicle.
Level 3 EV Fast Charging
Level 3 charging offers DC fast charging for vehicles, which enables swift charging and is suitable for high-traffic areas.
These rapid chargers can fully charge a vehicle from zero to full capacity within 20 minutes to an hour and are mainly available to the public.
The following factors may vary based on the charging duration:
- Operating costs of the chargers
While slower chargers require fewer installations, they take a considerable amount of time to charge the vehicle.
By contrast, the higher installation costs of Level 2 and 3 chargers substantially reduce charging time while increasing capital costs. Therefore, EV users have to weigh the trade-off between high costs for faster charging and lower costs for slower charging.
Please see our article on “Cool Electric Vehicle Accessories From Amazon” for some ideas on interesting stuff you can get for your EV.
There is a pressing need to invest more in EV infrastructure to make it a viable alternative to fossil-fuel-based vehicles.
Although increased battery capacity has driven growth in EV usage, there is still a significant challenge with charging times. Compared to refueling a fuel-based vehicle, most home or small business Level 2 Chargers take 4 to 10 hours.
One hour of Level 2 charging provides 25 miles to the vehicle.
The fastest EV chargers still take up to 20 minutes to reach full capacity from zero, which is a disadvantage for EV users.
Fast charging is also more expensive, and even home-based charging can be slow, making it necessary for users to pay more for efficient charging of their vehicles.
- Forbes: What Are the Different Levels of Electric Vehicle Charging?
- U.S. Department of Transportation: Electric Vehicle Charging Speeds
- Car and Driver: EVs Explained: Battery Capacity, Gross Versus Net
- C40 Knowledge Hub: Depot Electrification for Zero-Emission Bus Systems
- Mckinsey & Company: Building the Electric-Vehicle Charging Infrastructure America Needs
- ReportLinker: Electric Vehicle Charging Market
- EInfochips: An Overview of Electric Vehicle Charging Station Infrastructure
- Just Energy: Electric Vehicle Charging Stations: Everything You Need to Know
- U.S. Department of Energy: Developing Infrastructure to Charge Electric Vehicles