In 2040, 57 percent of all new U.S. passenger vehicle sales could be electric with 56 million new electric vehicles (EVs) charging in consumer driveways and garages according to a recent Bloomberg New Energy Finance report.

The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to reduce the 2020 global sales forecast for EVs by 43 percent due to the financial crisis according to Wood Mackenzie.

“While we don’t know how the pandemic-related financial crisis and cheaper gas prices will affect EV sales in the near-term, electric cooperatives should consider the likelihood of potential long-term EV growth,” CFC Vice President of Strategic Industry Research and Analysis Peter Muhoro said.

A new CFC report, “Future Electric Vehicle Growth: Their Effect on Residential Load and Distribution Networks,” shares how rural EV driver mileage and energy usage differs from urban drivers and what that could mean for electric cooperatives over the next 20 years.

Increased EV Charging at Home Could Stress Systems

“According to the AAA, 75 percent of consumer EV charging will take place at home,” Muhoro said. “Understanding the growth of EVs and the effect they will have on demand and the electric grid will be critical for how utilities manage their distribution system and what upgrades they will need to prioritize.”

To charge EVs at home, consumers will likely use Level 1 or 2 electric vehicle supply equipment. Current Level 1 charging systems typically draws approximately 1.5 kW of power load while Level 2 systems can draw 7 kW or 12 kW.

The growth of consumer EV charging demand at home could increase electricity demand, requiring electric cooperatives to consider future requirements on their distribution systems.

“Today’s distribution systems can typically use a 25 KVA transformer for a 4,000-square-foot home, which would be sufficient to charge one EV with a Level 1 charging system,” Muhoro stated. “Adding a second EV or upgrading charging to Level 2 could cause issues for the home’s electric service as well as the utility’s ability to meet the demand, especially when other appliances are running.”

Factors to Consider When Planning Upgrades

Utilities will need to keep a variety of factors in mind when planning distribution upgrades, including climate trends, seasonality, when consumers expect to be home, proportion of city versus highway driving, use of renewable energy sources, retail electric rate structures, incentives for home charging, public infrastructure and the types of popular EVs that are expected to be driven in the utility’s service territory.

“To anticipate future EV penetration and the growth of new electrical demand, electric cooperatives may look to state and local EV sales data in their area,” Muhoro added.