World Resource Institute

Electric Vehicles

The U.S. transportation sector is electrifying at an unprecedented rate: in 2018, one million electric vehicles (EVs) were on the road, and analysis shows that about 20 million EVs will be deployed by 2030. Globally, this number could surpass 250 million EVs by the same year.

Because EVs will play a critical in decarbonizing the U.S. transportation sector, which is responsible for almost 30% of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the country, WRI is actively engaging in four key areas of work.

Analyzing the Future Impact of EVs on the Grid

Over the next decade, the U.S. will see EV deployment increase dramatically. To help cities, airports and other large energy consumers plan for more EVs in their communities, WRI partnered with the UPS Foundation to create a modeling tool that forecasts future EV load impacts on the local grid and assesses the impact of EVs on individual neighborhoods.

Currently, WRI is working with the City of Orlando and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to help forecast how different levels of EV adoption will impact the grid serving both areas. These forecasts, based on parking patterns, will provide useful input to charging infrastructure investment strategies.

Pairing EV Loads and Renewable Energy

EVs are two to three times more energy-efficient than conventional gasoline-powered vehicles and have no tailpipe emissions. However, the reduction in GHG emissions and overall air quality benefits they bring depends on the mix of generation sources on the grid used to charge them. In some cases , for example, EVs could add substantial GHG emissions if they are charged primarily with fossil fuel-based generators.

In response, several utilities, automakers, cities and charging providers across the country have started offering pilot programs and rates designed to match EV loads with renewable energy. WRI’s work in this area explores the ways in which residential and commercial EV charging can increasingly be paired with clean energy sources.

Transportation Decarbonization Pathways and Vehicle Standards

As the transportation sector decarbonizes, policymakers at the federal and state levels need to know when—and at what pace—conventional vehicle fleets can be replaced with EVs and other forms of zero-emission technologies. To help support policymakers, WRI leverages third-party economic analyses and modeling studies to assess the long-term impact of different EV adoption scenarios.

In the past, WRI has helped inform programs including: the greenhouse gas and efficiency standards for vehicles, zero-emission vehicle standards, low-carbon fuel standards and purchase incentives. WRI’s New Climate Federalism project also provides recommendations on the appropriate involvement state, federal and local governments should have when transitioning to EVs.

EV Purchasing Programs

Governments and businesses can play a major role in supporting the transition to a zero-carbon transportation system by transitioning their own car, truck and bus fleets to EVs. WRI works with cities around the world to support the deployment of EVs, including buses, where electrification can provide significant health, climate and resilience benefits. WRI provides policy recommendations as to how Congress can scale up programs to electrify school buses, support healthy communities and create jobs.