Vehicle Charging Station Cost – One of the numbers the Biden administration has been tossing around for months is its plan to deploy “500,000 charging stations.” With Biden’s Senate infrastructure bill now nearing passage, $10 billion could be allocated to building electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the US.
But how many charging “stations” (e.g. chargers, ports, personal charging ports) is the last number before the word “billion” really?
Vehicle Charging Station Cost
First, why did I say $10 billion? The Senate bill includes $7.5 billion not only for electric vehicle charging infrastructure, but also for “hydrogen infrastructure, petroleum infrastructure and natural gas infrastructure.”
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“…subsidy programs for public electric vehicles, hydrogen refueling infrastructure, refueling infrastructure and conventional fuels infrastructure with designated corridors or other locations accessible to all electric vehicle, hydrogen vehicle, motor vehicle and natural gas vehicle drivers.” ”
I don’t understand how these costs can be spread across different types of fuel infrastructure, but I estimate that perhaps $5 billion to $7.5 billion could go toward electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Second, an additional $5 billion is earmarked for electric vehicle charging infrastructure in USDOT funds provided by state and local governments, according to an analysis by Jeff Davis of the Eno Transportation Institute.
With that out of the way, let’s return to the question: “How many charging stations will 10 billion electric vehicles buy in America?”
The short answer is “it depends,” because the cost of charging electric vehicles varies greatly. These include:
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I turned to Carl Pancutt, CEO of EV energy company Cleantek Energy, to help finance the use of high-speed direct current.
As you can see from the cost example below, the actual metal cost is just over 50% of the total project. Other costs include:
When you add all of these costs together, the cost ranges from $40,000,000 for a 50kW charger to over $400,000,000 for a 350kW charger. The more DC fast chargers installed on site, the lower the cost of the charger due to the high cost of additional energy and construction.
Don’t you think these prices are right? In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Cathy Zoi, CEO of charging network EVgo, was quoted as saying that using DC fast charging cost the company about $110,000. The cost of shipping a charging station with four chargers is around half a million, and a charging station with 8 chargers is around a million.
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“The construction and loading units for each parking lot cost $110,000,000. When we talk about building a station, we’re talking about half a million to a million dollars,” he said. – Cathy Zoi, CEO – EVgo
In the North Carolina example, the highest cost was $100,000,000 for a single 1 kW generator and in the Baltimore example, it was $137,500 for two 50 kW DC generators. Carl Pancutt from Cleantek.
To compare the use of Level 1 and Level 2 charging stations, I turned to John Kalb of EV Charging Pros, one of the leading experts on the use of electric vehicle charging stations in many properties. John has been involved in the deployment of hundreds of Tier 1 and Tier 2 electric vehicle chargers and has extensive project information.
As with high-speed DC installations, the costs of providing Level 1 and 2 installations can include additional electrical equipment, cable pulls and, for Level 2, often additional power from utilities, permits and chargers.
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Below is a selection of 8 Level 2 deliveries in Northern California across multiple locations. The cost per port ranged from a low of $6,205 to a high of $17,099 and an average of $9,808. The proportion of the project cost from non-metallic materials was high, but was estimated at 56.1% of the total project.
Interestingly, PG&E, a Northern California-based utility, released cost data showing an average of $17,661 for Multi-Family Development (MUD) Level 2 transmissions per port and $18,384 for MUDs and substations.
One of the challenges in housing construction is that properties in some markets may have been built between the 1950s and 1980s and the electricity and power supply cannot support the installation of many electric vehicles with Level 2 chargers. Electrical infrastructure for these properties up to current code, plus an additional fee for the project.
Cost is a key reason why some consultants and operators recommend that many property owners use a Level 1 “smart product” instead of a Level 2 “smart product”. Peninsula Clean Energy recently published a study comparing the cost of deploying a smart level 1 solution to a standard level installation. Using 2, you find (see figure) that Level 2 deployment costs 4.5 times as much as using Level 1 intelligence.
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Below is a selection of 7 Tier 1 shipping companies in Northern California for multiple properties. The price for each port ranged from a low of $2,084 to a high of $4,991 and an average of $3,254. In these examples, the average price of a Tier 1 port is one-third the cost of a Tier 2 port. The percentage of the project cost depends on the factors. Non-ferrous metals were valued at a high proportion but accounted for 73.6% of the total project cost.
Now that we’ve determined the shipping costs for each tier of EV charging equipment, let’s look at how much power $10 billion can buy for each tier and mix.
In the table below I have shown examples of 50kW, 100kW, 180kW and 350kW DC generators that can be sent from $1 billion to $10 billion, to less than $3,125 for a 350kW 1 billion kilowatt generator.
If 100 kilowatts of electricity costs $105,000,000 to operate, $10 billion can cover the cost of 95,000,000 DC drives.
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Nowhere near the 500,000 that the Biden administration often cites. And if instead of 100 kilowatts of electricity you took 200 kW for 200,000 dollars, 10 billion dollars would only give you 50,000. And 350 kilowatts of power at an average price of $320,000,000 would result in an installation of 31,250.
Now an important thing about investing that you should know. For Biden’s infrastructure project, federal funding is set at $15 million per grant and 80% of the project cost. The above investment monies include 20% or more provided by the grantee. So if you look at the number of government dollars covered, the amount of electricity sent would be higher. However, it is also possible that these subsidies themselves would increase transportation costs, which would increase the cost of the project, which would make these numbers more realistic.
Now let’s look at Level 1 and Level 2, using the same model and method as above for DC speed. Using the average costs above, $10 billion will fund more than 3 million Tier 1 smart devices or just over 1 million Tier 2 billings.
Let’s look at the three loading types together and see what the two examples and combinations might look like if 10 billion or 5 billion were used. Depending on charger mix level/power it could be as low as 150,000 to 1.4 million and anything in between.
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This article is not about showing what the mix should look like – I’ll save that for a later discussion – but about doing the math and showing what is actually possible.
One thing is clear, however: If the Biden administration wants to add 500,000,000 more chargers, most of them will have to be Level 2 chargers and, if supported (unlikely), and Level 1 chargers.
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