Analysis of the Infrastructure for Recharging Electric Vehicles 800112
The mobility of the existing personal-vehicle fleet is provided by a refueling infrastructure consisting of petroleum refiners, distributors, and service stations. This paper identifies the equivalent infrastructure that would be required to support a fleet of electric vehicles (EV), and analyzes the current status in the United States of its major components. The components include the electric utility companies, the types of dwellings at which it would be practical to recharge electric vehicles overnight, and methods for providing range extension, i.e., additional vehicle range without overnight recharging.
Many of these elements are already in place. The US utility industry has sufficient capacity to support at least 13 million EVs, if they are recharged at night. There are at least 20 million single-family homes where it would be possible to recharge an EV by adding a branch circuit and outlet with a rating of 230 volts at 50 amperes. This support is not uniformly distributed, however, and will depend strongly on the characteristics of the local housing stock.
However, even with these elements in place, EVs are still range-limited and mobility is therefore still not equivalent to that of the existing personal-vehicle fleet. EV parity in mobility can be achieved only through range extension support, a major element of the refueling infra-structure for EVs that is currently missing. Three alternatives are examined: (1) transient recharging stations, where the EV is recharged while the owner is at work, shopping, etc.; (2) battery swapping stations, which replace discharged with fully charged batteries; and (3) hybrid vehicles, which have a small internal combustion engine (ICE) in addition to the electric engine for range extension.
It is shown that all three would extend EV range to that of an ICE vehicle. However, transient recharge stations, while of value for emergency recharging, would not be desirable for daily use. Battery exchange would be a feasible alternative once there were enough EVs the on road to support a battery leasing operation and a network of exchange stations. The range extension hybrid is a solution that would be able to utilize the existing ICE refueling infrastructure, but would require further technical development, and would still depend, to a limited extent on the availability of petroleum.