New study describes public EV charging needs for 2020s
To encourage electric vehicle use in Hawai‘i, the Hawaiian Electric Companies have conducted the first study that pinpoints the areas where expanded public charging options would create a “critical backbone” supporting EV-driving commuters and tourists and help optimize operation of the electric grid.
By 2030, the study forecasts that about 3,600 public chargers will be needed on the five islands served by Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawai‘i Electric Light, over 10 times more than today. That’s in addition to an estimated 47,000 private chargers in homes and workplaces. Even in Hawai‘i, where the typical commute of less than 30 miles is well within the capacity of EV batteries, “range anxiety” continues to discourage people from driving EVs. While most EV charging takes place at home, the new study describes how areas with many high-rises and townhouses will need more public charging options due to increased demand for EVs.
The study will form the basis for a future request to the Public Utilities Commission to expand and make permanent the Hawaiian Electric Companies’ Direct Current Fast Charger pilot program. It will also provide a basis for a pilot program to provide charging infrastructure at multiple-unit dwellings and workplaces.
“Today, the EV industry is positioned to disrupt the global transportation landscape with billions of dollars invested in technology platforms and value chains across the world,” the companies said in an informational filing with the commission. “The transition to EoT is underway across all vehicle classes … and the future of transportation in Hawai‘i will require investment in charging infrastructure to meet the growing energy needs of those vehicles and their drivers.”
Under a pilot approved by the PUC, Hawaiian Electric Companies own and operate 17 DC fast chargers and can operate up to 25. The study makes the case for the expansion of a reliable public fast-charger network, especially in high-traffic, high-density areas like urban Honolulu.
“An expanded public EV charging program will provide security and access to more sites for the increasing number of EV drivers,” said Jimmy Yao, Hawaiian Electric acting director of electrification of transportation. “As we increase renewables, it’s essential to our clean energy future to reduce the largest use of fossil fuel in our state, which is transportation.”