Improving energy storage technology is widely recognized as essential to the viability of battery electric vehicles (BEVs), therefore a core technology for dramatically reducing transportation greenhouse gas emissions. But the impact of charging technology on developing a better battery is often overlooked. Senior Editor for MIT Technology Review Kevin Bullis put this in perspective, noting that “fast-charging still takes far longer than it does to fill up a tank of gas.”
The ITIF report Shifting Gears: Transcending Conventional Economic Doctrines to Develop Better Electric Vehicle Batteries summarizes the conventional state of BEV charging technology:
While Level 1 charging is available for all BEV vehicles, it can take up to 20 hours to fully recharge a vehicle. Level 2, meanwhile, charges in around 8 hours, making it ideal for overnight charging… Level 3 charging can almost fully replenish a BEV’s battery in half an hour, but the high-voltage process can shorten its lifespan due to its low density.
Unfortunately, even the relatively fast – by BEV standards – half an hour-level 3 charging offers a poor alternative to gas cars, which can be refueled in less than five minutes, at a much higher cost. (Read More: High Cost Prevents Electric Cars From Penetrating the Market)
Innovation is Central to Making Clean Energy Cheap
The United States and the world face an urgent imperative to transform its energy system by developing and deploying low or zero-carbon technologies on a dramatic scale. And while developed regions like the United States and Europe might be willing to change their consumption patterns and businesses to incorporate clean energy (though not significantly), developing nations can’t afford to pay the necessary premium for this access. And they shouldn’t have to, as they try to gain access to energy of any kind. As such, the only way the entire global energy system can transition to clean energy is if its cost is lower and its performance is equal to or greater than cheap fossil fuels like natural gas, coal, and oil.
Unfortunately, today’s clean energy technologies like wind, solar, electric vehicles, smart grids, and energy storage are more expensive and oftentimes performance-limited compared to their fossil competitors. Solar and wind power are intermittent without energy storage and still require significant advances in energy conversion efficiency. Electric vehicles are up to double the cost of comparable gasoline powered cars, and significant infrastructure build-out like smart grids, charging infrastructure, and transmission lines are barriers to rapid deployment as well. (Read More: An Introduction to Fueling Innovation)
I’m very excited to join the team at Consumer Energy Report! The analysis and commentary from CER’s contributors are first-rate and are playing an important role engaging readers in the most pressing energy and climate debates of our time. Before diving into commentary, I want to take a moment to introduce myself and my background.
First, a little bit about my day job. I’m a Senior Policy Analyst at the non-partisan think tank the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. ITIF’s mission is to formulate and promote public policies to advance technological innovation and productivity internationally, nationally, regionally, and in the states. Our underpinning philosophy is that innovation is at the center of ensuring prosperity and economic growth, and crafting effective public policies is critical to spurring innovation. ITIF’s work covers a broad spectrum of issues including government investment, tax, trade, regulatory policies, technology, and education policy.