One Finite Planet

Surviving with an EV and no driveway: on street charging.

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Table of Contents

People have for decades owned cars without needing to refuel at home, so it may not seem obvious just how important home charging is for owners of EVs. Various surveys confirm that 80% to 95% of EV charging happens at home and given that less than 80% of people have access to a space to be able to charge at home, those who can't charge at home are less likely to buy an EV.

To understand the problem, try living with a mobile phone without charging at home, or at work.

Background.

Since the start of the twentieth century, the role of cars has become highly important, though controversial. They are used throughout the world and have become the most popular mode of transport in many of the more developed countries.

Wikipedia: Effects of the car on societies

At the start of the 20th century, there were only 1.6 billion people, and a far higher percentage of them lived on farms or in small village than today. Given the population of 8 billion in 2022, it is clear that most housing was built after the start of the twentieth century, and in the era that the car had “become highly important”.

Cities in the developed world were either built, or adjusted, to accommodate cars. However, these cars did not need charging, and instead, were refueled at fuel stations know in the North America as ‘gas stations’ and in other English-speaking countries as ‘petrol stations’.

The result has been major ways that people can park their vehicles when at home:

  • In garages, driveways and private car spaces, as can be found in many detached houses.
  • In communal car parking areas, often with individual allocated car spaces, as commonly the case with apartments.
  • On street parking for those with neither of the above forms of parking.

A separate paper exploring the challenge of charging at home for residents of apartments can be found here.

This webpaper explores why solutions for people who need to rely on on-street parking to be able to charge at home matters, and what solutions are available.

Why parking for people with relying on on-street parking matters.

Buying an EV should be equitable, particularly as in future there may be no choice.

Many countries and jurisdictions there are plans effectively ban the purchase of internal combustion engine vehicles.

To both assist the transition to zero emission vehicles, and ensure an equitable transition, those relying on on-street parking should have as close to equal access to home charging as possible.

The impact of not having access to home charging is discussed in more detail here, but one fact remains clear, the use of fast DC charging is typically 2x to 3x more expensive than charging at home.

There is also a second factor, and that is the transition of the electrical grid to renewable energy. Renewable energy such as solar and wind can only replace fossil fuels if supported by energy storage, and the most cost effective and lowest environmental impact solution is to harness the storage of the batteries of electrical vehicles.

At some point, not only is it likely that people without access to home charging will pay more for the energy to power their cars, but their lack of access to energy storage of their car battery would result in them needing to buy an extra battery or pay more for their home power.

Solutions.

The older solution.

Public Charging Solutions for on street parking.

There are many proposals for public charging infrastructure, such as such as the one in the video to the right, with posts that can be housed at the street side, as well as other solutions that convert streetlamps into charging posts.

And the future.

A challenge for these proposals for on street charging, is that who funds such infrastructure is complex issue. In the end, it normally assumes those charging on street will be paying a premium for electricity compared to those charging at home in order to fund the scheme operator.

‘Electrifying’ the street can work in densely populated areas, particularly with wireless charging, but there is a risk that the electricity will come at a premium to help fund the infrastructure. Even when paying a premium for electricity, EVs are still less expensive to operate than ICE vehicles, but it would be better if everyone had price parity. Society regards electricity to the home as an essential service, and with EVs, electricity to the car parking location may need similar consideration.

Private Charging Solutions for on street Parking.

Another alternative is private charging solutions. These could provide a solution for less densely populated areas, where the ration of cars spaces to those needed for charging would be much lower, making public infrastructure much more difficult to cost justify.

The basic premise is that in many less densely populated areas, the kerb in front of each house is normally available for the residents of that house. But allowing residents to install their own charger using their home power on the public land between charger and house, residents can have sufficient certainty of being able to park and charge on the street outside their own home.

Updates Log.

  • 2022 Nov 20: First version.

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