Solving the Chicken-Egg Dilemma of Electric Vehicles

26th March, 2024

The automotive industry is a significant contributor to global pollution, with vehicles responsible for 15% of the world’s CO2 emissions.[1] Now, it’s at a crossroads. The transition from vehicles powered by fossil fuels to electric vehicles is seen as the most effective strategy for achieving net zero. Amidst this backdrop, the global EV market is expected to reach a staggering revenue of $623.3 billion in 2024 and demonstrate a steady annual growth of 9.8% until 2028, resulting in a projected market volume of $906.7 billion.[2]

However, this optimistic outlook is tempered by a chicken-egg dilemma: without sufficient charging infrastructure, there will be no widespread adoption of electric vehicles – and vice versa.

Relieving Range Anxiety
Today, range anxiety is very much a real concern for current and potential EV owners. We are used to jumping in our cars and travel wherever and how far we want, without worrying about not finding a gas station for a quick fill-up if needed. But in the case of EVs, many drivers are concerned about how far they can travel before needing a charging station and then having to wait through a long charging session.

To say the least, the demand for efficient charging has never been greater. While most of this demand is currently met by home charging, publicly accessible fast chargers are increasingly needed to provide the same level of convenience and availability as for refueling conventional vehicles. Both companies and governments are now globally investing in charging infrastructure to meet the demands of passenger cars and heavy trucks.

Fueled by Governmental Policies
This build-out is supported by governmental policies and regulations. As part of the Fit-for-55 Package, the European Union has proposed the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR), which sets charging coverage requirements across the trans-European network transport. In the US, deployment of charging stations is expected to accelerate in the coming years, following the government approval of the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program (NEVI) that supports the build-out of chargers across 122 000 km of highway.[3]

With home charging and a global network of charging stations being underway, one may think that it will be enough to solve the chicken-egg dilemma. But not quite. It rather leads us to the next challenge for our societies to overcome.

Limitations in Grid Capacity
While many parts of our economy are moving away from fossil fuels to electrification, the automotive industry is the driving force. However, electrification is only an effective decarbonization solution if paired with clean or renewable energy. With this follows that renewable energy capacity must triple by 2030 to meet demand and the net zero emissions scenario by 2050,[4] implying major changes to the power grids.

Today, grids are neither designed for the intermittent nature of renewables nor for providing the power needed for fast-charging EVs. This insufficient capacity risks causing blackouts and burnouts. While we can expect some grid expansion and refurbishing in the coming years,[5] it’s unlikely that grids will be upgraded widely enough to provide the power needed for the growing EV market demand. So, what’s the solution?

Solving the Chicken-Egg Dilemma through Intelligent Energy Storage
This is where Polarium comes in. By integrating our intelligent battery energy storage systems (BESS) into innovative charging infrastructure, we can overcome limitations in grid capacity. Our BESS can feed power from the grid during low demand or from complementary renewable energy assets, and release power to charge EVs during peak demand time. Using our solutions, EV charging providers can also accommodate multiple EVs seamlessly without requiring costly grid upgrades. This ensures faster charging times of more and larger vehicles while maintaining equal power distribution across all units, preventing peak loads that result in higher demand charges.

Ultimately, adding energy storage to charging stations helps balance power grids while reducing energy costs. It’s an enabler for an effective global charging infrastructure, and simultaneously, the widespread adoption of electric vehicles – solving the chicken-egg dilemma.

[1] McKinsey, Road Mobility, 2022

[2] Statista, Electric Vehicles Worldwide, 2024

[3] IEA, Trends in Charging Infrastructure, 2023

[4] IEA, Net Zero Roadmap, 2023

[5] IEA, Electricity Grids and Secure Energy Transitions, 2023


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