Navigant Research Blog

U.S. Federal Government Expands EV Charging Infrastructure Support

— February 1, 2016

EV RefuelingThe FAST Act transportation bill that became law in December 2015 contains an important provision to increase the coordination of activities of all players in the electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure ecosystem. Thanks to funding reauthorizations in the law, individuals and organizations that purchase EV charging equipment in the future will receive a federal tax credit for either commercial and residential chargers, as reported by Green Car Reports. This incentive is expected to spur additional sales of charging infrastructure that reduces range anxiety and increases sales of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs).

More significantly, the Act requires the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to “designate national electric vehicle charging and hydrogen, propane, and natural gas fueling corridors,” as well as to identify “standardization needs for electricity providers. …”

Increasing Installations

Since 2009, there has been considerable effort to increase the installation of publicly accessible EV chargers. These include the federal EV Project and ChargePoint America programs, as well as recent collaborations such as those between BMW and Nissan—notable because they support different fast charging standards—and Nissan’s growing effort in using multiple charging networks to provide free charging to customers as they roam.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) EV Workplace Charging Challenge, a voluntary program for employers that install EV infrastructure, continues to progress rapidly, as highlighted in the program’s recently published interim report. According to the report, individuals whose employers offer workplace charging are 6 times more likely to own an EV than the average person. And workplace chargers aren’t just sitting idle; the report states they are delivering an average of 9.6 kWh of power per day.

Thus far, however, there has not been a national effort that adds utilities, state governments, and other key players to the development of charging networks and infrastructure. The FAST Act is looking to greatly encourage coordination by requiring the Secretary of Transportation to engage with stakeholders to include:

  • The heads of other federal agencies
  • State and local officials
  • Representatives of:
    • Energy utilities
    • The electric, fuel cell electric, propane, and natural gas vehicle industries
    • The freight and shipping industry
    • Clean technology firms
    • The hospitality industry
    • The restaurant industry
    • Highway rest stop vendors
    • Industrial gas and hydrogen manufacturers

The DOT has 1 year to identify these corridors, a not insignificant task that will require analyzing EV sales data, forecasts for future purchases for both plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles (BEVs), and the expected required volume of charging infrastructure, analysis of vehicle miles traveled by region. Identification of locations (using geographic information systems mapping) of the logical linkages between EV hotbeds where roadside charging is likely to be most beneficial is also a needed step. The corridors will require primarily DC fast chargers to enable BEVs to travel longer distances by recharging in under an hour, as well as some Level 2 chargers for extending the electric range of plug-in hybrid EVs that don’t have fast charge capabilities.

If these corridors are successfully electrified, we can expect greater concentrations of EVs in adjacent cities, ultimately resulting in improved urban air quality and reduced CO2 emissions.

 

Value of Flexible Grid Resources Coming into Focus

— February 1, 2016

Server room.Earlier this month, California’s big three utilities announced awards for a new initiative to bring clarity to the value that flexible distributed energy resources (DER) can provide to the grid. The Demand Response Auction Mechanism (DRAM) program is one of the first attempts to incorporate a wide variety of DER into statewide grid operations. While this program is focused only on one service—helping reduce peak load on the grid—it is an important development in recognizing the full value that DER can provide.

The recently announced awards include load reduction through four primary technologies: behind-the-meter energy storage, residential DR, commercial & industrial (C&I) DR, and electric vehicle (EV) charging. Although the majority of this capacity was awarded to traditional C&I DR, the inclusion of more innovative technologies validate claims made by vendors that their solutions can provide value to multiple stakeholders throughout the grid system. Residential energy management providers such as EnergyHub, Ohmconnect, and Chai Energy won bids totaling over 11 MW to reduce load primarily using smart thermostats. Distributed energy storage vendors Stem and Green Charge Networks won a combined 880 kW of load reduction utilizing batteries they have located in C&I buildings. Finally, startup eMotorWerks will be shaving over 1.2 MW of load by aggregating the operations of more than 1,000 smart EV chargers.

DER Value and Growth

The diverse technologies included in this program demonstrate the ability of multiple technologies to provide valuable services to the grid. While the value these technologies provide for their host users differs significantly, they can be viewed as a single, flexible resource by grid operators. Navigant Research’s recent Distributed Energy Resources Global Forecast report provides a detailed breakdown of the rapidly growing DER market in countries around the world. As shown in the report and with the DRAM program, traditional DR is currently the most cost-effective form of load reduction for utilities. However, other technologies are expected to see much faster growth in the coming years. Distributed energy storage is expected to be the fastest growing DER resource in the United States, with a compound annual growth rate of 45% over the next decade.

Once again, California is leading the way in identifying and valuing the diverse services that new technologies can offer the power grid. All bids have been kept strictly confidential through the DRAM program, an important point to note as the various technologies have widely differing costs to install and operate. These bids will help inform future efforts to integrate DER both in California and around the world.

 

Automotive Cyber Security Is Finally Progressing

— February 1, 2016

CarsharingstandortWhen I first joined Navigant Research as an analyst in August 2014, the very first entry I wrote for this blog came on the heels of the annual Black Hat and DEF CON security conferences in Las Vegas. Up to that time, automakers had been conspicuously quiet on the subject of security. Fortunately, in the past 18 months the industry has awoken to the very real problem of automotive cyber security and is taking steps to ensure that increasingly connected and automated vehicles will remain safe.

Over the past several years, security researchers have demonstrated a series of increasingly sophisticated hacks of vehicles. Back in 2010, we were seeing hackers connect to vehicle internal networks by way of wireless tire pressure sensors or from a back seat via a thick bundle of wires connected to a diagnostic port. In the first half of 2015, we saw cars from two different automakers remotely controlled after researchers were able to wirelessly connect to the telematics modules from a safe distance and take control of the brakes, acceleration, and steering.

White Hat Help

In that first blog I wrote, I called on automakers to embrace white hat hackers and security researchers who were trying to invade automotive electronic systems. Today, both Tesla and General Motors (GM) have official responsible disclosure programs where researchers can submit any vulnerabilities they discover. The automakers review those submissions and work to remediate the flaws to help keep customers safe. Tesla launched its program in mid-2015; GM followed suit in January 2016.

Unlike Tesla (and many technology companies including Google, Facebook, and Microsoft), GM is not currently offering any rewards in its program—though it has not ruled out doing so in the future. The GM program is administered through an online portal run by a San Francisco startup called HackerOne. HackerOne provides the disclosure portal free of charge and makes money by taking a percentage of any rewards paid out for verified vulnerabilities.

Industry Response

Another important step forward for the industry was the establishment of the Automotive Information Sharing and Analysis Center (Auto-ISAC). ISACs are now increasingly common in a wide range of industry verticals including utilities, healthcare, financial services, and more. The Auto-ISAC currently includes most major automakers from North America, Europe, Japan, and South Korea; its goal is to provide a platform to share information about cyber security threats and vulnerabilities that put both the general population and auto-industry at risk. The Auto-ISAC began operations in late 2015 and is likely to become a very important tool in the effort to prevent malicious attacks on the transportation ecosystem.

The mobility business is changing. Navigant Research’s Autonomous Vehicles report projects that there will be almost 85 million autonomous-capable vehicles on the world’s roads in the next 20 years and far more vehicles that will have some level of connectivity. Road safety is already a difficult issue to tackle without the problem of malicious attackers intruding from a distance. Fortunately, the industry is now tackling the issue head-on on numerous fronts via improved system architecture, more robust software development processes, and collaboration with anyone willing to step up and help.

 

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