California needs 1.2 million public EV chargers by 2030

Approximately 7.5 million passenger plug-in electric vehicles (EVs) are anticipated on California roads by 2030.

These are expected to require almost 1.2 million public and shared chargers at workplaces, multi-unit dwellings and other public areas, new analysis from the California Energy Commission has found.

This is in addition to the chargers at individual homes.

A further 157,000 chargers are estimated as needed to support the 180,000 medium and heavy duty trucks and buses that are expected to be on the roads by 2030.

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With these figures, the scale of the challenge facing the state – and other jurisdictions with similar targets – is made clear. The latest order for California dated September 23, 2020 sets targets of 100% of new passenger vehicles being zero emission by 2035 and 100% of medium and heavy duty vehicle operation being zero emission by 2045, where feasible.

Currently, there are approximately 73,000 public and shared chargers across the state with an additional 123,000 chargers planned by 2025. This indicates a deficit of about 54,000 chargers to meeting that year’s 250,000 goal.

“We need to bridge the gap in electric vehicle charging or we won’t meet our goals for zeroing out harmful pollution from transportation,” says CEC Commissioner Patty Monahan.

“Building over a million chargers by 2030 is ambitious, but it’s also an opportunity. California isn’t backing down from this challenge because the health of our communities and planet is at stake.”

Clearly, additional public funding is going to be required to meet these targets and as a start, an additional $500 million is proposed in the 2021-22 budget.

To date, approximately 862,000 zero emission vehicles including battery electric, plug-in hybrid and fuel cell vehicles have been sold in California and they account for 9% of all new vehicles sold.

The state also has 47 hydrogen refuelling stations in operation so far.

Electricity demand

The Commission’s analysis also investigated the EV charging demand finding that in 2030 electricity consumption from passenger EV charging could reach about 5,500MW around midnight and 4,600MW around 10 a.m. on a typical weekday. This is an increase in electricity demand by up to 25% at those times.

While current results indicate that non-residential charging demand will generally align with daytime solar generation, more than 60% of the total charging energy will still be demanded when sunshine is not abundantly available. Further, a projected surge of charging demand around midnight when off-peak electricity rates take effect may strain local distribution infrastructure.

To fully realise the economic, air quality, and climate benefits of electrification, the state also must pursue greater vehicle-grid integration.

Other findings of the study include the need to prioritise establishing common connector and communication standards for hardware and software.