Lack of public charging infrastructure a key constraint to electric vehicle adoption


McCall Johnson,
Clean Energy
Environment Texas
Austin, TX, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — January 25, 2009 – The lack of public charging infrastructure for electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles is one of the key barriers to their widespread adoption in the United States, according to a new white paper from the environmental advocacy organization, Environment Texas.

The white paper points out that electric vehicles can dramatically reduce carbon emissions and air pollution as well as dependence on oil, and it highlights that while America’s electric system has the capacity to fuel most of its cars today, the nation will need to clean up its electric grid to reap the full potential of these vehicles.

For example, a study by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory found that America’s electric system could fuel 73 percent of U.S. cars, pickup-up trucks, SUVs and vans without building another power plant, by charging vehicles at night.

Utilities also can structure electricity prices so that it is cheaper to charge cars at times of the day when there is lower electric demand, ensuring that a large number of plug-in cars do not put a strain on the utility.

In the white paper Environment Texas calls on local, state and federal governments to jump-start the creation of charging infrastructure by installing chargers at publicly owned facilities, developing procedures for the installation of chargers on city streets, and providing incentives for private development of charging infrastructure.

Further, the U.S. should encourage the use of clean energy by adopting a renewable electricity standard requiring that 25 percent of its electricity come from renewable energy by 2025. The nation should further reduce global warming emissions from power plants by adopting a cap on global warming pollution that reduces emissions to 35 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and to 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050. In addition, the nation should invest in the adoption of smart grid technologies that would allow plug-in vehicles to help stabilize the grid.

The white paper says that while the initial price of plug-in vehicles will likely be high, getting significant numbers on the road quickly is important to prove that the technology is viable and to identify unexpected hurdles. Financial incentives for buyers of the first generation of plug-in hybrids, coupled with policies to encourage the purchase of plug-ins by government and private fleets, can help get significant numbers of plug-in vehicles on the road quickly. So too, could a low-carbon fuel standard that allows plug-in vehicles to contribute to the goal of reducing life-cycle global warming emissions from vehicle fuels by 10 percent by 2020.

The organization also calls for continued funding for research and development of advanced battery technology for electric vehicles.

“Environment Texas urges our state and local officials to fully harness the power of plug-ins by setting clean car standards, offering financial incentives for buyers, creating a low carbon fuel standard, promoting renewable energy, and adopting smart grid technologies,” said McCall Johnson, clean energy advocate at Environment Texas. “And lastly, Environment Texas urges the Senate – and Senators Hutchison and Cornyn here in Texas – to pass a comprehensive energy and global warming bill that, among other key steps, encourages the development and deployment of plug-in vehicles and other clean energy technologies.”

To read the white paper “Plug-In Cars: Powering America Toward a Cleaner Future,” click here.