Electric vehicle (EV) charger availability, particularly publicly available chargers, remains one of the most significant barriers to EV adoption. To help address this issue, municipalities, businesses, and utility companies have begun to install extensive public charging infrastructure.
However, much of the public charger infrastructure installed to date have been part of small scale pilot projects. As EVs rapidly become mainstream, mass installation of chargers will be necessary.
To help support mass installation of EV chargers, a research team from the Rocky Mountain Institute studied ways to lower EV charger costs including procurement, installation, and operations and maintenance (O&M) costs. To do this, the team conducted interviews with a variety of stakeholders including public utilities, hardware providers, software providers, local governments, and others. The team supplemented these interviews with publicly available cost data.
In the end, the team's analysis suggests that “the greatest opportunity for cost reduction lies in [controlling] “soft costs” [such as] process costs, marketing costs, opportunity costs, the cost of delays in permitting etc.”
The report goes on to outline additional important ways installers can control procurement, installation, and operations and maintenance costs, including:
- Procure in Larger Volumes: Volume discounts of EV chargers may be significant. Procuring larger numbers of units at one time maybe one way to lower procurement costs.
- Coordinate and Consolidate Charging Sites: Grouping chargers can reduce installation and O&M costs by reducing the need for additional site preparation and distributed maintenance.
- Consider Conduit Runs: Building chargers closer to existing utilities can significantly reduce installation costs by reducing the need for complex utility routing.
- Install During Construction: Installing charging infrastructure as part of a construction project can eliminate much of the iterative design costs and soft costs, as well as reduce costly retrofit trenching through existing concrete or asphalt parking lots.
- Use Standard Request for Proposals: Standardizing and coordinating request for proposals across installation projects can lead to cost savings.
- Use Shorter Data Plans: Cellular data plans, which are used to monitor charging stations, are part of the O&M cost of charging stations. To reduce charger cost, installers should avoid signing long-term contracts at current prices, and instead seek short-term contracts with the expectation of shopping for cheaper contracts in the future.
- Consider Wired Communications: A charging station operator, particularly one that owns the hardware and sites and has control over when and how its charging stations are used, may find long-term operational costs can be reduced by using a wired Ethernet connection, particularly if they are confident that they can maintain network security.