by Rue Phillips, President & Co-Founder of SkillFusion
By most accounts, the electric vehicle (EV) age is upon us, with studies showing that the EV market is slated to hit $1.58 trillion by 2030. EVs are clearly disrupting the transportation landscape, though it won’t be only the vehicles themselves that will drive the sustainable future — it will be the charging infrastructure.
There’s an established and growing need for a robust infrastructure of charging stations that can effectively support the rise of EV adoption. While a gas station on every corner is to now be expected in a country whose modern age was built around gas-powered vehicles, the EV charging station infrastructure hasn’t entirely caught up with the rate of EV use.
The charging station problem
There are currently over 2 million EVs on the road in the United States, marking a veritable explosion in EV adoption over the past years. With most major car manufacturers now offering an EV or testing the market in some manner, that number will grow exponentially in the next few years. However, even with the rising popularity of EVs, the charging station infrastructure has run up against problems.
With more vehicle options, many new owners are outside of Tesla (which has its own proprietary Supercharger network) jumping on the EV train, some drivers have run up against issues with inconsistency between different networks, authentication, and changing interfaces. Exacerbating the challenges, there just are not enough working charging stations to support the rise in EV use. At present, only 138,100 EV charging stations are available in the US, and encountering a charging station that doesn’t work is unfortunately common.
As a result, EV drivers are experiencing “charging anxiety.” As Car and Driver opined, “The EVs are fine; it’s the charging”.
Where drivers once held anxiety about the range EVs would have, they are now worried more about whether a charging station will be operational when they need it. Without reliable and working charging station infrastructure, the sustainable future that the EV era is meant to usher in may never come to fruition.
Making charging stations the sustainable solution
The issue of an unreliable charging infrastructure has presented challenges but also opportunities for innovation and growth. The Biden Administration, as part of its larger Infrastructure Plan, recently committed to building additional EV charging stations, hoping to reach 500,000 by 2030.
Within the executive order, President Biden mentioned the widespread benefits of improving EV charging infrastructure and the importance of investing in this infrastructure to support a more sustainable future. Those benefits included reduced carbon emissions, a decreased dependence on fossil fuels, and better air quality.
One of the major economic opportunities is illustrated by the fact that increasing the number and reliability of EV charging stations will require teams of highly-trained contractors to install and maintain these charging stations, offering a whole new industry to workers skilled in everything from automotive repair to computer networking. Current infrastructure is lagging due to a lack of certified professionals available to maintain EV charging stations, so the industry must now catch up by building workable stations and training the workers who will keep them up and running. With the investments from the federal government rolling out nationwide, these new job opportunities will be present nationwide as well.
As more people realize that EVs can get us closer to the sustainability goals we have set for ourselves, there will be more willingness to invest in infrastructure and the training of professionals needed for infrastructure upkeep. Sustainability through EV use will require support to ensure that anyone who wants to drive an EV has access to a reliable charging network. That is a key component for a truly “green” future to be realized.
With over 13 years of experience in the solar, electric vehicle (EV), and renewable energy industries, Rue Phillips is a visionary investor, entrepreneur, and expert who has founded or led several successful companies in the cleantech space. Rue is currently President and co-founder of SkillFusion, a digital customer service platform for training, certification, and compliance of Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) Electricians, Technicians, and EV-ComTechs.