Charging EV at night is about to evolve more expensive

Electric auto charging stations in New York City are often inside paid parking lots. Overnight charging has always been a perk of EV ownership, but what happens when it becomes too expensive to power up in your driveway at night?

One of the electric vehicle ownership bonuses is charging your automobile overnight while parked in your driveway at home.

Electricity need is usually low, so rates are relatively cheap, making it both convenient and affordable for many. But that’s about to alter as more people buy EVs and the demand for overnight charging boosts, according to a new study published today.

The study was conducted by a team at Stanford University and published in Nature Energy. It is found that increasing EV ownership in the western US could lead to apex net electricity demand growth by up to 25 percent by 2035, the year California has said it would restrict the sale of gas-powered motorcars and trucks.

The team concludes that demand could grow to as much as 50 percent beneath a “stress test” scenario where every automobile on the road is a plug-in model. More demand cracks into higher prices, which means the glory days of cheap overnight charging may end.

The authors recommend that vehicle owners do more daytime charging at work or public charging stations to better prepare for destiny with more EVs. In addition, it becomes imperative as more renewable power generation sources come online, including wind and solar power.

“In the future grid with more heightened renewable generation, timing is more significant, and net demand suggests a distinct story than total demand,” the study reads. “Shifting drivers from home to daytime charging enhances all metrics of grid impact, including use of non-fossil fuel generation, ramping, storage requirements, and emissions. Moreover, this insight is robust across varying levels of EV adoption.”

It is not just a California problem, even though the state has the highest number of registered EVs today — around 1 million plug-in models or about 6 percent of total autos.

“All states may require to rethink electricity pricing structures as their EV charging requirements increase and their grid changes,” stated Siobhan Powell, lead writer of the study, in an email.

Fetching more drivers in the US to switch to plug-in power is crucial in decreasing pollution, reducing carbon emissions, and fighting climate adaptation. But many challenges lie ahead.

EVs are more costly than gas-powered models and, for now, more challenging to find. The charging infrastructure in the US is unpredictable and seen as a barrier to the more broad adoption of EVs. And the materials that are required for lithium-ion batteries are in a high market, leading to supply chain problems.

The Biden administration has recognized charging as a significant challenge, funneling billions of dollars into national projects to install more chargers, including DC fast chargers that can charge an EV in much less time than typical Level 2 chargers. However, much less focus has been put on proper grid management, which will become more of an issue as EV sales continue to increase.

For example, demand charges from utility companies dominate charging companies’ operating costs, further complicating the business case for building more charging stations. In addition, the cost of electricity is higher based on the level of charging they provide. Therefore, these calculations must be rethought if the government desires to incentivize the EV charging industry.