9 Nov 22

EV drivers need charge point installations to quadruple by 2025

As world leaders gather at COP27 to discuss initiatives to combat climate, new research says Europe needs the number of public electric vehicle charging station installations to quadruple by 2025 to support the growing numbers of battery-powered vehicles.

Over the last five years, the number of plug-in cars has increased 10-fold, but the number of public chargers has risen by only 2.5 times. Early adopters of EVs typically had off-street parking where they could install a home charger, but as the powertrain technology becomes mainstream, an analysis by McKinsey calculates that the EU-27 will need at least 3.4 million public charge points by the end of the decade.

This will demand huge investment from charge point manufacturers to increase production, and closer coordination between charge point operators and electric utilities to supply power to sites.

In total, McKinsey calculates that the cumulative cost of building this infrastructure could cost €240 billion by 2030.

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3.4 million chargers

McKinsey’s 3.4 million public chargers include 2.9 million for cars, 400,000 for light commercial vehicles and 100,000 for trucks and buses. In 2021, 42% of European EV owners living in cities had no access to home charging points, and therefore relied on public chargers.

Yet last year, only 1,600 charge points were installed per week, with the figures dominated by larger countries, such as France (400 public chargers per week) and Germany (200 per week).

The consultants also forecast that homeowners, apartment building managers and workplace parking operators will have to install 29 million private charging stations by 2030.

“France and Germany had the fastest pace of installation in the European Union. But they, and the entire European Union, are far behind the target rate, which would ramp up with each new year. On average, 6,000 public charging points a week would have to be installed in the European Union as a whole from 2021 to 2030, so there is much ground to make up,” said McKinsey.

Grid upgrades

Developments of this scale will require reinforcements to national electricity grids, particularly upgrades that distribute power from substations to end users.

“For commercial vehicles, new chargers could draw as much as one megawatt (equal to 1,000 kilowatts) of electricity. These sorts of locations will require grid upgrades or backup storage solutions: a highway rest stop simultaneously servicing 20 trucks and ten cars with fast chargers could experience peak electricity demand of about 20 megawatts—equivalent to that of a city with 20,000 inhabitants,” said McKinsey.

If EVs are to deliver policymakers’ decarbonisation objectives, electricity generators will need to invest in more renewable energy. McKinsey’s analysis forecasts that the electricity demand directly related to EVs will increase from nine terawatt hours in 2021 to 165 terawatt hours in 2030, a rise from less than 1% to nearly 6% of the EU27’s total electricity consumption.

Smart charging and V2G

Smart charging will help to manage demand, by shifting EV charging to times of day when general demand is lower, and there are particular opportunities for fleets whose vehicles are parked at a depot or workplace for extended periods.

“A first development phase, which could be widely under way by 2030, would involve unidirectional smart charging: the charging times of EVs would be centrally controlled to reduce peak loads,” said McKinsey. “In a second stage, bidirectional smart charging would use vehicle batteries as intermittent storage within the grid: batteries could be charged or discharged depending on levels of energy generation and demand.”

Across the EU as a whole, EVs could have up to 3 terawatt hours of battery capacity by 2030, equivalent to 40% of the EU’s average daily energy demand, said McKinsey.

Image: Shutterstock

Authored by: Jonathan Manning