As sales of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) increase in the United States, a key question comes to mind—how many charging stations are needed to support these new vehicles?
A recent report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) outlines several potential PEV and charging station scenarios, with an estimated 15 million PEVs on the road in 2030. It suggests just a few hundred corridor fast-charging stations could support long-distance traveling between U.S. cities and roughly 8,000 of them would be needed to serve urban and rural areas nationwide.
The maps below examine some of the potential expansion scenarios proposed by NREL to support PEVs nationwide.
Geographies Considered: Cities, Towns, and Interstates
The report focuses on non-residential charging equipment to meet consumer coverage expectations and demand. Coverage and charging demand estimates are made for where people live and the highways they travel. They include four specific geographic areas: cities (represented in yellow), towns (in purple), rural areas and the U.S. Interstate Highway System (red lines).
Scenario: Mega-regions Fast-Charging Coverage
Mega-regions are large networks of cities with shared natural resources and common transportation systems. Most of the nation’s rapid population growth is expected to take place in these large networks. Providing coverage for PEV charging on interstates within each mega-region would result in the fast-charging network shown above and would need 96 to 239 fast-charging stations depending on station spacing.
Scenario: U.S. Interstate Highway System Fast-Charging Coverage
To provide convenient access to PEV drivers across the U.S. Interstate Highway System (red lines), the analysis finds that 285 to 713 corridor fast-charging stations would be needed, depending on spacing. This map shows the coverage that would result from using fast-charging stations, spaced 70 miles apart on average.
Scenario: National Fast-Charging Coverage
Although full community-based infrastructure may take longer to establish—projected by NREL as roughly 8,000 fast-charging stations in U.S. cities and towns—it could provide travel corridors with charging backup options, route flexibility, and additional coverage along U.S. highways and state routes. This map shows the national fast-charging station coverage enabled by community-based charging stations.