Source: S&P Global Monthly, January 2023
Figure 2: EV chargers forecast (U.S.)
Customers require multiple charging options, including at their homes, workplaces and in public places. Until EV charging stations are as ubiquitous as fuel stations, utilities have a role to play in helping customers locate and access chargers. Utilities can help develop rapid charging stations and make it easy for businesses to install them on their premises.
At the on-site level, utilities can also manage the connection journey for residential, commercial and public chargers. Operators can prepare local chargers to integrate new technologies, such as stationary battery storage, on-site generation and future enhancements (e.g., rapid charging capabilities and increased charger capacity).
Organizations should go beyond simply providing charging stations—they can also help customers find them. Publicis Sapient partnered with car manufacturer Renault to develop an app that helps EV owners access a network of 1,000 residential chargers across Europe. Similar utilities-developed apps can empower customers to locate available chargers in real time.
Powering up grids
Networks of charging stations need reliable grids to support them, especially as the acceleration of EV ownership will impact distribution systems. As a result, utilities must plan for infrastructural investments to prepare distribution systems for growing demand. For instance, they can proactively upgrade transformers to get electricity to charging stations.
With the growth of renewables, utilities also have an opportunity to optimize EV charging in areas with high solar and wind penetration for local grid reliability.
Leverage customer preferences to balance load at the local grid level
As renewable sources of energy and EVs accelerate simultaneously, utilities will encounter uncertainty with both supply and demand. Renewable sources of energy like solar and wind are not always reliable, and EV customers may increase demand on the grids as more people charge their vehicles at once.
A holistic understanding of customer behavior and their consumption patterns will enable utilities to effectively balance this uncertainty at the local grid level. Knowing customers’ charging habits will equip operators with the insights they need to anticipate when the grid may be under increased pressure and strategize load-balancing initiatives accordingly. Ultimately, this may alleviate the need for additional upgrades to grids as demand for EV charging intensifies.