Good news: Existing technology can address the energy and charging challenges of EPA tailpipe emissions standards

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Gregor Hintler

April 14, 2023

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Power control systems will be a key driver to get the most charging value out of energy infrastructure, reducing cost and timeline of implementation to meet federal EV goals.

EPA Director Michael Regan speaks at a lectern, the text "Accelerating Clean Transportation" is seen behind him.

At the end of last year, I wrote that the United States’ GHG emissions reductions goals are at risk from infrastructure implementation challenges in the transportation sector. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) new proposed tailpipe emissions standards for light-, medium-, and heavy-duty vehicles, announced this week, now puts us on a much clearer path to achieving these critical goals to maintain a habitable planet for present and future generations. 
 

The new standards would require a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector, which accounts for the largest share of U.S. emissions. If these standards go forward, as many as two out of every three light- and medium-duty vehicles sold in the U.S. will be zero emissions electric by 2032. 
 

However, there are still challenges ahead. Already we see in the coverage of the EPA’s announcement that doubt is being cast on the idea that automakers can make the transition, that workers will keep their jobs, and most relevant to what we do at The Mobility House – that the electric grid can withstand the massive influx of demand from charging tens of millions of new electric vehicles. 
 

To those who are doubtful about whether we can charge that many electric vehicles in the U.S., I say: it can be done. The good news is that we don’t need to build as much new distribution infrastructure as conventional wisdom might think. With the right technologies, it is possible to accommodate many more chargers and vehicles than we currently do with our existing infrastructure. And, by building less new stuff, we reduce the amount of investment necessary, and shorten the implementation timeline to achieve the federal goals. 
 

Fortunately, there are technological solutions available today that make best use of existing grid infrastructure. One such solution is power control systems, which balance and limit electrical currents drawn by a specific load, such as EV chargers. By integrating these technologies, such as automated load management, smart panels, meter collars, and others, into their planning and implementation, utilities can accommodate more of the energy demand associated with rapid and wide-scale EV adoption for both commercial and residential customers than they can with current operational and planning methods. 
 

Power control systems are commercially available in the US and in common use in other countries in a variety of use cases from fleets to residences to workplaces. What we need to do now is to adapt U.S. utility and regulatory practices to adopt the technology at the scale required. 
 

We applaud the EPA and the Biden-Harris Administration for taking this critical action to set ambitious and achievable goals to lead us to the zero emissions future. We share the vision, and we are already hard at work building towards it.

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