The Future Of US EVs : Interview With The Electric Power Research Institute

Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) has estimated that by 2050, 70–90% of all EV driver fueling will be done either at home or work. There are many pieces to the electric vehicle and charging infrastructure puzzle in the US and Dan Bowermaster, the program manager for Electric Transportation at EPRI, answered some questions for CleanTechnica recently about what the EV future for America might look like.

Where did this estimate come from, “By 2050, 70-90 percent of all driver fueling will be done either at home or work.”

If current electric vehicle (EV) ownership trends continue, along with advancements in technology and regulatory requirements, our research says we should expect to see a shift to home and work fueling of cars. It is worth noting that cars used primarily for commuting sit parked at home and at work for more than 21 hours each day. This leaves ample opportunity for charging during these periods at work and home.

Do you have an expectation about how driving range per charge might increase by 2050?

If we assume similar improvements in range as we’ve seen over the past few years, ranges may surpass current internal combustion fueled systems. That said, we will need to explore the next generation of technology. Range is improving as automakers and the battery industry move into next-generation products. For example, the first generation of fully electric vehicles had about 80-100-mile range. Some of the vehicles in the current generation of EV and the ones recently announced have more than a 200-mile range.

Currently, do you have any sense of what some of the milestones might be on the way to 2050, such as when the US might reach one million EVs on the roads, or 5 million? About how many will be in operation by 2050?

This will depend on several critical variables. The two important areas will be the smart growth of the infrastructure needed to support EVs as well as customer education and smart and targeted marketing.

The faster a network of EV charging infrastructure is deployed in the U.S., both along highways and in public areas used for parking commuter vehicles, the faster we will hit these milestones. This will require an integrated approach to ensure the electric load and infrastructure are provided in a way that will serve the public good. The right way to approach this question remains open and we are working to find the best fit that supports our core values of safety, reliability, cost effectiveness, and environmental responsibility.

Do you anticipate government incentives at the national and state levels, or perhaps even for some very large cities like LA and NYC that want to cut air pollution from vehicles?

While we cannot comment on specific policy proposals, any support for the right balance of infrastructure investment and customer education will facilitate the safe, reliable, affordable and environmentally responsible adoption of more EVs.

How might transportation infrastructure develop to accommodate more EVs?

We need to understand what the changing load dynamics will mean for today’s grid as we add millions of new EVs to our energy ecosystem. This will include more research on high-power charging plazas for personal EVs as well as electric buses, taxis, ride-share vehicles, and trucks. Stakeholders need to learn more about the other side of the meter – which decisions trigger which costs – and how the EV industry can plan for a scalable future.

How much do you think the trucking industry will change due to the development of electric big rigs?

There is incredible potential to decarbonize the entire transportation industry through the efficient electrification of its components. This, of course, includes short- and long-haul trucking. The technology is new and will need to be proven — and the charging infrastructure needs to be developed further to support a major shift from diesel to EV trucks. High-power charging plazas will need to be designed not only to serve the load of the electric trucks but to have a flexible foundation to meet various grid conditions across the U.S.

How will utilities work with an increasing number of EV owners who will be charging at home and/or at work?

This is a complex question that may change from state-to-state and perhaps utility-to-utility. Local utilities can serve as energy advisors for their customers who are considering electric vehicles, especially around rate plans and behind-the-meter infrastructure requirements needed to support EVs. 

Do you foresee more and more homeowners using solar power self-consumption to run their homes and charge their EVs as well as store energy for night use and backup?

The technology and the economics of home solar and storage are improving, and we expect to see an increase in adoption of these technologies. To date, our research shows that these technologies are most efficient and cost-effective for the homeowner when connected to the grid. (One aspect of powering EVs with a high level of renewable energy is to be connected to the grid. To charge EVs with the cleanest power mix, owners should charge during periods of peak generation for those resources – for example, in the middle of the day for solar energy. If a customer has a solar energy system on their home and is connected to the grid, they are helping other EV owners utilize cleaner energy to fuel their cars.)

EPRI is collaborating with homeowners and with Southern California Edison’s (SCE) emerging technology program, Meritage Homes, to develop an all-electric, multi-family home community in the cities of Irvine and Fontana. This research may help further our understanding of the ways homeowners can efficiently deploy these technologies.

This pilot aims to evaluate customer acceptance of zero net energy (ZNE) homes that use more electric technologies, engage additional builders with more complete data sets on these kind of projects, and continue to make the business and “public good” case for scaling adoption of ZNE homes, electric technologies, and advanced energy communities.

Are you expecting that many delivery vans and trucks will be all-electric, and cabs and shuttles?

Short trips are ideal for today’s EVs. We are already seeing this transition in some municipalities and expect it to continue. Frito-Lay and FedEx are piloting electric vehicle trucks. UPS recently announced its plans to deploy 50 plug-in electric delivery trucks on urban routes across the country. These trucks will help to make its fleet cleaner and quieter and are another step toward large-scale industry adoption of EV fleets. Cities such as Chicago, Palo Alto, and Sacramento are piloting electric garbage trucks. We expect this to continue.

Image Credit: EPRI

Have a tip for CleanTechnica? Want to advertise? Want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Latest CleanTechnica.TV Videos

CleanTechnica uses affiliate links. See our policy here.

Jake Richardson

Hello, I have been writing online for some time, and enjoy the outdoors. If you like, you can follow me on Twitter:

Jake Richardson has 1026 posts and counting. See all posts by Jake Richardson