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Ready, Set, Charge! The incoming surge of demand for electric vehicle charging stations

By Jim Romeo | May 15, 2023
STOCK.ADOBE.COM / FRANKBOSTON
Electric vehicle chargers are being installed alongside many miles of highway and purportedly pumping about $7.5 billion into a nationwide EV charging infrastructure. But one challenge is having enough electrical contractors to install them.

Electric vehicle chargers are being installed alongside many miles of highway and purportedly pumping about $7.5 billion into a nationwide EV charging infrastructure. According to research by MarketsandMarkets, the EV charging station market is projected to grow from $11.9 billion in 2022 to $76.9 billion by 2027, or about a whopping 45% per year during that time.

According to a report by the Institute for Energy Research, there are challenges that lie ahead in providing charging resources. One of them is having enough electrical contractors to install them.

The report states, “Between the end of 2019 and the end of 2022, U.S. spending included $600 million by federal, state and local governments; more than $4.3 billion by private companies; and more than $1.7 billion by electric utilities. That spending has not resulted in many new chargers because the permitting and construction of chargers can take 18 months or more. Moreover, qualified electricians are getting increasingly hard to find to perform the complex wiring forced electrification is requiring.”

Other concerns are that charging stations are not being installed fast enough, how long it takes to charge a vehicle, the toll that such a surge will take on electric grids and how easy it will be to charge an EV where and when you want to.

New technology to the rescue

Some new technology offers hope for mitigating some of the risk and anticipated problems for a robust EV charging network.

If everyone is charging, it can strain electrical grids. A U.K.-based firm has developed solar-based charging “trees” with the canopy composed of solar panels with sufficient capacity to provide charging to multiple vehicles per tree. The design is such that one or more vehicles may charge in a small footprint. Also, it uses photovoltaic power in lieu of fossil-fuel generated power off the national grid.

In addition to this specific design, regional planning authorities are now integrating solar infrastructure into communities so that sustainable solar grids are available exclusively for charging. That’s what is happening at an old industrial area in Turin, Italy. The redevelopment project features shopping, entertainment, culture, sports, services, offices and hospitality centers. Atlante, a division of a French energy technology company, will provide quick, fast and ultra-fast charging points up to 300kW that are powered by 100% clean energy.

Focus on convenience

New innovations will further shape our EV experience and its convenience. We think of charging an EV as an event where we bring the vehicle to a charging station. But how about one where a charging station comes to you? Many companies are developing mobile chargers that can bring a charge to vehicles and are able to service vehicle fleets.

SparkCharge, for example, offers a mobile EV charging system and network and will also offer a fleet services solution for what it calls mobile charging as a service. Portable, battery-based stations are transported in a vehicle to bring the charge to the user. This is a way to avoid the long lead time to build out charging infrastructure, and it’s reasonable to expect that mobile charging will become popular.

The Institute for Energy Research summarized the charging landscape well when it wrote in a commentary on its website that the lack of on-the-road operable charging stations and their unreliability “add anxiety to EV drivers who would be carefree in a gasoline-powered automobile. There are also major issues at charging stations ranging from broken chargers to the spiraling icon at malfunctioning stations.”

For electrical contractors, the demand for charging stations—commercial and residential—is a ripe opportunity ready for picking. Smart contractors will have their eyes on the technologies mentioned and the many that are sprouting up to make charging convenient, sustainable and available. Those who do will carve out a prosperous niche for themselves that just was not feasible 10 years ago.

stock.adobe.com / FrankBoston

About The Author

ROMEO is a freelance writer based in Chesapeake, Va. He focuses on business and technology topics. Find him at www.JimRomeo.net.

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