Electric vehicle (EV) adoption is accelerating, as is demand for public charging infrastructure. Access to reliable and convenient charging must expand to all communities, but this process can be expensive and require extensive coordination among government agencies and utilities, often beyond a single jurisdiction.

Siting smart charging infrastructure is challenging for decision-makers, as they need to ensure economic feasibility and utilization. A lack of data availability and a siloed planning approach make this even more difficult. These issues can culminate into stranded or poorly utilized infrastructure assets.

Retrofitting existing infrastructure like streetlights and utility poles for EV charging can be a low-cost, more equitable way to establish a comprehensive public charging network. Providing guidance and peer-to-peer learning opportunities for cities could enable greater deployment.

Considerations for siting public chargers should include grid impacts from charging, potential for renewable energy integration, traffic flow and parking availability, among other factors. WRI’s EV-Grid Integration work centers around developing tools and analysis for city decision-makers in the United States, India and China with these considerations to help optimize siting for chargers.

This work focuses on three areas:

1. Curbside, Pole-Mounted Charging

Cities and utilities typically have jurisdiction over streetlights and utility poles located in urban areas, particularly near multi-unit dwelling and central business districts. This infrastructure is suitable to site public charging stations due to real estate availability, existing electricity connections and potential for high utilization. This can also help make charging more accessible for all types of electric vehicles.

WRI is preparing guidance documents focused on engagement with government officials, utilities, manufacturers and potential end users of pole-mounted charging. WRI is also facilitating a workshop series for city decision-makers in the United States.

2. Spatial Analysis

Siting public charging infrastructure is a complex process for cities and utilities. A large variety of factors need to be considered to maximize accessibility and utilization of the infrastructure, while also making it cost efficient.

WRI is piloting an integrated charging infrastructure planning approach in cities across India by combining spatial analysis of charging demand distribution with available grid capacity. This approach estimates the necessary number of public charging points and assesses the need for grid capacity enhancement at a disaggregated level.

3. Vehicle-Grid Integration (VGI) and Smart-Charging Policy Research

China has the highest number of EVs in the world. This presents an imperative case to build smart, reliable and future-proof charging infrastructure that can accelerate EV adoption while providing grid services.

Through evidence-based research, introducing international perspectives, organizing stakeholder engagement and promoting vehicle-grid integration, WRI is providing strategic guidance to national and local governments on the adoption of smart charging and vehicle-to-grid in China’s major infrastructure plans.

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