Hidden Battery Powered Vehicle Issues

Hidden Battery Powered Vehicle Issues

Two issues concerning BEVs and PHEVs have been lurking in the weeds and haven’t been given much attention.

Both battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) need to be able to recharge their batteries.

Where and when will those batteries be recharged?

Where?

The Wall Street Journal started to address one of those issues with an interview of the CEO of ChargePoint Inc.

He inferred that fewer, not more, charging stations would be needed than the current 168,000 gasoline stations in the US.
He said, “Batteries would be recharged at work or at home, and only occasionally along a highway.”

Assuming, for discussion purposes, that 80% of all light vehicles in the United States are either BEVs or PHEVs, it would mean that approximately 200 million vehicles would need to be recharged at home or at the office.

Let’s also assume that all the chargers installed at the office are of the type that can provide a full recharge in thirty minutes.

Home charging can take all night, so there is no need for a $20,000 fast charging station at home.

Charging Stations at Nordstrom’s, McLean Virginia

Whether the vehicles are parked in small office buildings or large parking lots, every vehicle needs to be charged while the owner is at work.

If there isn’t a charging station for every vehicle, it will require an individual, possibly an employee, to remove the charging cable from one vehicle and install the charging cable in a second vehicle. If this is done multiple times, the number of charging stations can be reduced.

The CEO of ChargePoint also said workplaces should have one charger for every 2.5 vehicles. This would cut the number of workplace charging stations to 40,000. He also said that there should be a charging station every 50 to 75 miles on highways.

Under the scenario described by the CEO of ChargePoint, the United States would require about 140,000 charging stations,100,000 at home plus 40,000 at work — Plus more along highways. In total, that’s not too different from the 168,000 gasoline stations that exist today.

This can be parsed in many different ways. For example, one charging station could service two vehicles. Or more inexpensive stations could be installed requiring hours to recharge a vehicle rather than minutes.

In any case, the number of charging stations is probably going to be about the same as the number of gasoline stations, and possibly more.

This should be good news for companies such as ChargePoint, but bad news for tax payers, or rate payers, who have to pay for the charging stations.

When?

The second hidden issue concerns the cars charged at the office. These vehicles will probably be charged during the day which adds to the utility’s peak load which requires building new power plants to accommodate the additional load.

Proponents of BEVs and PHEVs always talk about having BEVs and PHEVs charged at night, inferring that the existing grid can handle the load since the existing load at night is low.

But, having vehicles charged at the office results in an increased daytime peak load that will require building new power plants.

Grid Reliability

Proponents of BEVs have said that charging should be done at night when there is surplus grid capacity.

The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory did a study a few years ago indicating that there would be no need for additional generating capacity if 60% of all light vehicles were charged at night.

But this is a hidden reliability trap.

It would only require a small percentage of BEVs to suddenly shift from charging at night to charging during the day to overload the grid.

Other costs

Not mentioned above, in the workplace scenario, is that fast charging stations will also probably require increasing the capacity of the substations and distribution system feeding the charging stations. These upgrades aren’t cheap, and the cost, possibly in billions of dollars, will have to be borne by someone, probably the utilities’ customers.

Even the distribution transformers in residential areas will have to be replaced with higher KVA ratings to meet the increased demand caused by recharging batteries. See, Hidden Cost of PHEVs and EVs – Part II.

Summary

These hidden issues are being swept under the rug by proponents of BEVs and PHEVs. The CEO of ChargePoint also didn’t mention them.

They are hidden because they will not be immediately apparent. They are costs that the next generation will have to bear if BEVs and PHEVs become ubiquitous.

This doesn’t mean that BEVs and PHEVs shouldn’t be allowed, but it does imply that those promoting them should be honest with the public.

It also could indicate that we would be better off if market forces are allowed to dictate the transition from gasoline or diesel, to the next generation of motive power, whether it’s battery power or Hybrids.

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8 Replies to “Hidden Battery Powered Vehicle Issues”

    • Thanks for the comment.
      It would be helpful if the media reported all the facts, and not just those that suited their agenda, in this case doing away with the use of fossil fuels.

    • Thanks. I appreciate your catching this typo. I should have caught it, and it was uncommonly careless of me not to.
      It should have read 200 million. I corrected the text this morning.

  1. It seems the assumption is that electric vehicles will visit a charge station at the same frequency of a ICE vehicle. I drive 350 miles a week, one fill and a few bucks in the middle of the week. I don’t see that creating a reduction in stations.

    • Excellent observation.
      It would appear as though BEVs would be recharging daily or perhaps every other day with a 30 minute charge that would add, say 90 miles of range.
      This could indicate the need for more, rather than fewer charging stations.

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