Thousands of EV chargers will soon line America’s highways
It’s been an exciting year for electric cars. Big companies frequently announce new models. Scientists are working on charging cars faster .. Potential buyers now have EV tax credit ..
The Biden administration is building up America’s electric vehicle charging station infrastructure, most recently with the Department of Transportation approving plans to build charging stations in all 50 states. This is part of the bipartisan infrastructure legislation that was passed late last year. These charging stations will cover roughly 75,000 miles of highways–nearly half of the highway system. The ultimate goal is to have 500,000 new charging stations by 2030.
Financing the transition to a cleaner transportation system in the country is still a challenge. It will be critical to coordinate other transportation modes and determine where the stations will be located.
Where do charging stations need go?
Where should they go? This is the most important question regarding charging stations. Are charging stations better placed in cities or rural areas? Currently, most are located in or near cities.
Jeremy Michalek, a professor of engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University, tells Popular Science that you have to consider where people are currently charging and how charging needs to adapt depending on where people are traveling.
” There are two places that have priority. Michalek states that it is along highway corridors to ensure that electric vehicles can be charged at any time you visit someone in another part. “The other focus is on communities that don’t have much off-street parking. These households won’t have a charger in their garages, especially if they don’t have one. They will rely on the public infrastructure to charge their vehicle on a daily basis .”
For EV owners with a garage fit for charging and who only travel a couple of dozen miles a day, finding a charging station on the day-to-day won’t be too problematic, especially if that car can hold 400 miles per charge. Even the best EV situation can have its downfalls. If you travel out of state to visit relatives, you may need a charging station.
Many electric vehicle owners live in areas where garages aren’t as common.
“Charging must be available at work and at schools in downtown areas, as well as in secure ways at rental properties,” said Daniel Kammen, a professor of Energy at the University of California at Berkeley.
Kammen points out that electric vehicles are becoming more popular. He says electric cars may be able to travel 1,000 miles on one charge in the not-too-distant future. He says that this would relieve some of the pressure to construct more charging stations.
” I think that as the range grows, the need to have highway chargers becomes less important because people can travel further without needing to recharge. Michalek agrees.
Handling charging availability–and range anxiety
Daily charging is one thing, but finding a charging station during busy holidays is another. Michalek states that “I think the issue of peak demand” is what most worries him when it comes down to making this rollout a success. Tens of millions of cars travel the road on big holidays like Thanksgiving and July 4th.
There are currently nearly 2 million electric vehicles on the road in the US, but there could be over 26 million by 2030. Kammen believes it is crucial to prepare for this increase and that the administration should continue to distribute funds in an innovative and effective manner.
” We need to get the Inflation Reduction Act and Infrastructure Act funds, which were very well designed, out the door,” Kammen states. “A national network charging stations will accelerate clean transportation .”
In addition to the work of the Biden administration, the private sector will undoubtedly also play a part in the construction of charging stations.
” I think that the automakers have not wanted to play the game with infrastructure making at the same time as making cars, but I believe the private sector can play an important role.” Michalek states. But there are some areas where it might not make sense to install a charger, even though it isn’t likely to be used very often
There still needs to be emphasis on public transit
Though electric cars are better for the climate than gasoline-powered cars, public transit is better for the environment than EVs because it transports more people than a single driver, so it’s more energy efficient. Unfortunately, public transit is often highly underfunded around the country.
The bipartisan infrastructure law dedicates nearly $80 billion to fund public transit projects, but experts argue we need a lot more than that to repair and expand our public transit system. The transit system arguably needs more than twice that amount to get to where it needs to be–closer to $200 billion.
Electric vehicles are great, but America’s car addiction, unfortunately, means policy typically is not focusing enough on the most climate-friendly ways to transport people. Public transit, along with the new high-tech charging stations, is also needed if America’s transportation system will be sustainable.
I’m a journalist who specializes in investigative reporting and writing. I have written for the New York Times and other publications.