National Lab: Public EV Charging Not Necessary Everywhere


The Idaho National Laboratory (INL) has announced analysis results from what it says is the largest collection of light-duty plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) and charging infrastructure demonstrations in the world.

According to the lab, the key finding was that public charging infrastructure is not needed everywhere to enable PEV adoption. Instead, INL explains, charging infrastructure should be focused at homes, workplaces and public ‘hot spots’ that serve multiple venues.

The lab says widespread adoption of PEVs has the potential to significantly reduce the U.S.' transportation petroleum consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. A commonly cited barrier to adoption is the lack of public places for PEV drivers to plug in their vehicles.

To reduce this barrier, INL says critical questions must first be answered: How many and what kind of charging stations are needed? Where and how often do PEV drivers charge? How many electric vehicle miles are traveled, and what level of petroleum reduction can be achieved?

In 2009, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) set out to answer these questions. Several resulting projects – Charge Point America project, Chrysler Ram PEV Demonstration, General Motors Volt Demonstration, South Coast Air Quality Management District/Via Motors PHEV Demonstration, and The EV Project – installed roughly 17,000 charging stations and deployed approximately 8,700 PEVs across the U.S. The DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy provided half the funding for the five projects, and INL researchers collected and analyzed the resulting data.

INL says data collected from all five projects captured nearly 130 million miles of driving and 6 million charging events, providing the most comprehensive view of PEV and charging usage to date. The findings will be used to support and refine activities of the U.S. Department of Energy's EV Everywhere Grand Challenge.

The analysis revealed that PEV private owners performed an average of more than 85% of charging at home. INL says when away from home, drivers tended to favor just a few public charging stations, with workplace stations being most popular and less expensive to install. Factors that drive popularity of public charging locations are community-specific, the lab adds.

The study also found that drivers adjust their charging habits based on conditions such as fees and rules for use. INL says that when privately owned Volts are charged frequently, they achieved better than 120 mpg in normal consumer use patterns. Also, workplace charging was found to enable significant electric range extension. Project participants with access to charging at work were observed to drive 25% more on electricity alone than the overall group of vehicles in the project.

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