Loan Programs Office

How Loan Guarantees Can Put a Charge in Electric Vehicles

July 20, 2016

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This summer, many Americans will get behind the wheel for a summer road trip. Part of that tradition includes stocking up on one’s favorite snacks and sodas while refueling at a gas station. But instead of a gas station, imagine a future where snack runs happen at an electric vehicle (EV) charging station. That future could be closer than you think.

While the price of batteries has traditionally been one of the biggest obstacles to widespread EV deployment, recent advances have resulted in rapid price decreases – more than 70 percent between 2008 and 2014. The other major obstacle has been insufficient charging infrastructure. Advances are being made in this area too, but market barriers that persist must be resolved before the technology can reach commercial maturity.

One of the market barriers for innovative technologies like EV charging infrastructure is that commercial lenders are often unwilling or unable to take on the risk of a new or innovative technology until it has a solid history of commercial operation. Loan guarantees from the Department’s Loan Programs Office (LPO) can help overcome this market barrier for the first deployments of innovative technology. After the technology has been proven at commercial scale by the first few projects, LPO steps away and the commercial market takes over. The rapid growth of utility-scale photovoltaic (PV) solar power plants across the U.S. is a prime example.

Today, an announcement was made about how financing from LPO can help to remove this market barrier for EV charging infrastructure.

new supplement to the Title XVII Renewable Energy and Efficient Energy (REEE) Projects loan guarantee solicitation released today by LPO clarifies that EV charging infrastructure, including associated hardware and software, may be a qualifying technology under the solicitation. Specifically, LPO has determined that EV charging facilities may properly be characterized under the Solicitation as Distributed Energy Projects that employ efficient electrical transmission or distribution technologies. 

A robust EV charging network can help make the summer road trip tradition in an EV more sustainable. With up to $4.5 billion in loan guarantees available under the REEE Solicitation, LPO can help make that cleaner future a reality.