Challenges and opportunities for plug-in electric vehicles in U.S.


Washington, DC, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — June 14, 2013 – Plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) have experienced significant growth recently, with sales in the first five months of this year surpassing the total sales in 2012, and their large scale introduction into the light duty fleet in the U.S. can be expected to substantially reduce local oil consumption, according to a new report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

Further, it could deliver important environmental benefits, specifically reduced emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) and other pollutants, although these benefits will vary with the source of the electricity used to charge the PEVs.

According to the report, Plug-in Electric Vehicles: Challenges and Opportunities, on the average U.S. electricity generation mix and on a full fuel cycle basis PEVs today offer major reductions in GHG emissions relative to conventional gasoline powered vehicles and modest reductions over hybrids, while PEVs’ criteria pollutant emissions are typically somewhat higher than those of gasoline vehicles. GHG and criteria emissions associated with both vehicle types will decline in the coming years due to federal regulations among other factors. In the longer term, however, meeting transportation sector climate goals will require vehicles that run on low carbon fuels, such as PEVs running on electricity generated from renewable sources.

There are therefore strong environmental and economic reasons to encourage a substantial presence of PEVs in the U.S. electric vehicle fleet. However, while a great number and variety of PEV policies and programs are in place, they are not yet sufficiently comprehensive or coordinated to achieve widespread adoption of PEVs in the immediate future. Nor in all cases are they crafted to best achieve the benefits that PEVs can bring.

Further, on the utility side, while PEV charging won’t represent a major draw on electricity supplies in the short or medium term, localized power disruptions could occur in neighborhoods with high PEV adoption due to overloading of distribution transformers. Utilities will also need to determine how to set tariffs that are fair and effective.

The report recommends that federal government should support further performance improvement and cost reduction for batteries and set policies to help increase PEV sales volumes. Further it should help to improve the charging experience by promoting standardization of charging protocols and reinstating tax incentives for charging station installation.

Utility regulators are also recommended to advance utilities’ PEV readiness by ensuring they are preparing to accommodate increased PEV market penetration and working with them to develop appropriate charging tariffs. They should also allow cost recovery for programs to promote PEV adoption.