It is becoming increasingly clear that electric vehicles, or EVs, create fertile ground for microgrids and vice versa.
Microgrids are being built to provide electricity to electric vehicles in places where the grid is not up to the task or where electric vehicle customers are looking for greener or more reliable power.
Meanwhile, more and more microgrid developers are integrating EV chargers into their projects, assuming that those served by the microgrid will eventually, if not immediately, drive electric vehicles.
In view of this synchronicitya new report by Arthur D. Little that ranks countries by electric vehicle readiness is likely to be of interest to the microgrid community.
Spoiler alert. Americans who think we might rank well, especially since the United States is home to Tesla, will be disappointed.
Even though Tesla “arguably started the electric mobility movement around the world and revived the American auto industry,” the U.S. only ranks second in EV readiness, according to “Global Electric Mobility Readiness Index — GEMRIX 2022.”
How to become the Norway of electric vehicles
Norway can offer lessons in the United States. The northern European country tops the list, a fascinating twist since oil is the country’s main source of wealth with the government running a $1.3 a trillion dollar oil fund on behalf of its citizens. Norway is the only country where electric vehicles account for more than 50% of vehicle sales. The report gave a nation a score of 100 if its drivers experience equivalent benefits from driving electric vehicles as internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. Norway scored a whopping 115, making Norway the “only country where driving an electric vehicle is more beneficial than driving an ICE,” the report says.
There were several reasons why Norway excels. Buyers have access to the largest number of EV models. Tax breaks can reduce the cost of an electric vehicle by $50,000 to $40,000. The government has used some of its wealth to install robust electric vehicle charging infrastructure, an effort that began more than a decade ago. And it has created a clear roadmap for the future by becoming the first country to ban combustion vehicles from 2025. It also helps that 84% of Norwegians live in cities, which reduces the likelihood of anxiety related to autonomy.
China, Germany, the UK and Singapore come next as countries where electric vehicles are about to become mainstream. Also front-runners, they are Norway’s “ambitious followers”, according to the report.
The next category, “emerging electric vehicle markets,” lists the United States along with Japan, the United Arab Emirates, and Thailand. In these countries, electric vehicles are still an inferior alternative to combustion vehicles, but customers are increasingly comfortable with the idea.
Why is the United States second in electric vehicles?
According to the report, only about 1% of the more than 280 million passenger vehicles in the United States are electrified. The country lacks charging stations – around one or two charging points per 621 miles – with the coasts providing better coverage than the central parts of the country.
Another big problem is the electrical distribution infrastructure. Most US homes are served by single-phase electrical power, which limits charging options. EV chargers can exceed the electrical capacity of the house the owner may therefore need to upgrade the amps in his electrical system.
“This creates one of the greatest challenges in the United States,” the report said, citing range anxiety as second.
But the news is not all bad for the United States.
The report reveals that the United States has “macro factors” that make it fertile ground for electric vehicles. These include:
—Adequate disposal income to purchase electric vehicles, as evidenced by high GDP per capita (nearly $70,000) and GDP growth of 3% over the past three years
—One of the highest motorization rates in the world, with nearly 850 cars per 1,000 inhabitants
—A high smartphone penetration of 82%, indicating an affinity for innovation
—Over 100 plug-in models available for purchase in 2021 with new entrants flooding the market
The new US climate law will help
The report also credited the Biden administration for supporting electric vehicles and creating aggressive targets to add more charging infrastructure. In an email, the report’s lead author, Philipp Seidel, noted that the research for the report was done before Biden signed the Cut Inflation Act on August 16, which created a host of new incentives for electric vehicles.
“My view is that in the US, the directional impact of administrations over the past few years has been very strong on energy/climate/transportation related areas (see Trump vs. Biden administrations) . I believe that a transition to electric vehicles with related aspects such as V2G and renewables will happen faster with the current legislation, but could be affected again in the reverse by any change in the political agenda during the next few years,” he said.
Make EVs cool
While there are many rational reasons for driving an electric vehicle, the report points out that their perceived “cool” or lack thereof also plays a role.
The “coolness” of driving an electric car is a determining factor mainly in Europe and North America, the report says. And unfortunately, it also works the other way around. For some, electric vehicles just aren’t cool. In parts of the United States, for “large portions of the population, particularly in the central states, ICE cars remain the emotionally and economically preferred option,” the report said.
This may point to another way microgrids can improve EV adoption in the United States. Investigation The work of the Civil Society Institute shows that liberals and political conservatives share a predilection for microgrids. Could integrating more microgrids with EV charging stations help EVs play in Peoria?
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