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IDTechEx forecasts EV charging beyond the utility grid to be a US$16.6B market by 2034

The rapidly accelerating uptake of electric vehicles poses a challenge for aging utility grids. These electrical distribution and transmission networks were never designed to carry the estimated 22,000TWh (22 billion kWh) that the transportation sector currently gets from fossil fuels. The problem is even more acute for locations where there is no existing grid infrastructure. Constructing new cabling and transformers is not only expensive but incredibly time-consuming.

The question then arises: how will EVs be charged when grid infrastructure is lacking or simply non-existent? One emerging solution is off-grid EV charging. A new report from IDTechEx—“Off-Grid Charging For Electric Vehicles 2024-2034: Technologies, Benchmarking, Players and Forecasts”, explores this emerging and rapidly growing space.

IDTechEx forecasts that the global off-grid charging market will reach US16.6 billion by 2034, with a CAGR of 47.1%.

These technologies connect an EV directly to an energy source (via battery storage) bypassing the electricity grid. They may be integrated such that trickle-charging from the grid or selling excess electricity back to the mains supply is possible, but broadly speaking, these charging methods can operate fully off-grid.


Overview of the different energy pathways for off-grid/grid-tied and a hybrid grid solution. Source: IDTechEx

IDTechEx identifies solar canopies as an early market leader in off-grid EV charging, particularly in the US. A relatively simple concept consisting of an overhead photovoltaic canopy that shades the car and provides charge to the battery, these have the additional benefit of being free to run.

However, key technical limits are expected to constrain the growth and adoption of these devices to specific regions and use cases. The power per area productivity of solar panels is fairly low, typically around 300W per square meter. This limits the power generation and hence charging rates of these canopies to low AC levels, which, while may be suitable for top-up charge in consistent sunlight, are unlikely to be competitive in the increasingly high-powered fast charging market. They are also unable to produce power at night or in inclement weather and have a hefty price tag, especially considering the charging rates.

Hydrogen generators - fuel cell technology for BEVs? Fuel cell electric vehicles sales trail battery electric vehicles despite continued and sustained interest from OEMs. One of the major problems is seen as high upfront costs and difficulty in sourcing hydrogen. The emergence of BEVs, in some senses FCEVs’ main competitor, may ironically provide a lease of life to the FC in the form of temporary distributed generation.


IDTechEx research finds that there is a small but actively growing market for fuel cell generators, where on-site stored hydrogen can be converted to electricity when required. Many of these have been designed for distributed generation; however, there is an emergence of these hydrogen fuel cell generators to charge EVs.

Hydrogen offers a benefit over other renewable sources as it can be used to produce electricity at any time of day, regardless of the weather, as long as there is a supply of hydrogen. This is in stark contrast to renewables, which are often highly variable and intermittent.

Despite these benefits, there are significant challenges involved in sourcing cheap green hydrogen. IDTechEx analysis also shows that the type of hydrogen used significantly impacts the overall CO2 emissions, with certain colors of hydrogen potentially being more environmentally damaging than diesel generators.

In spite of these challenges, IDTechEx believes that hydrogen-powered EV charging will have strong growth over the coming decade, especially in sectors that require higher charging and are most difficult to connect to the utility grid. Construction and public highway fast charging are also highlighted in the report, with the overall market value expected to reach US$14 billion by 2034.

With a booming EV market, the grid will be increasingly strained, leading to a growing demand for off-grid solutions in some situations, IDTechEx says.



It strikes me the main thing is to time the charging so it can happen when the grid is lightly loaded, which usually means at night.
If most people charge at night, the problem goes away.
If most people charge as soon as they get home in the evening, you have a big problem.
Also, with vehicles having 50kWh+ batteries, you shouldn't need to charge every day anyway.
Also, companies could have extensive PV (assuming the have the space) so they could charge +- 3 hours from noon, which should be enough.
Ditto people who work for home.


The whole premise is wrong. The grid isn't static, it's been evolving for 150 years. Frankly, EV charging presents less of a challenge than air conditioning, which is ubiquitous in the US. As mahonj correctly points-out, they can complement each other very well, given the right incentives. The most USA-style incentive is to offer better overnight rates, as was done with long distance calls for most of the twentieth century.

The article is a bit too "fact-selective" to my taste, but it is based on a press release. It's hard to seriously mention fuel cell cars and EVs in the same breath, given that sales ratios are 1:1000, or worse. Similarly, home photovoltaic production can only contribute a tiny proportion of energy needs. That's why we have a grid, after all; it's a lot more efficient, convenient, and cost-effective to produce electricity in larger diversified facilities using multiple technologies (mostly NG and coal in the US, but also nuclear and renewables). An extra KW from your roof helps, but only as a tiny supplement. You can get the same net 1 KW boost by improving your home's insulation.


The problem does not go away at night since solar does not produce at that time.
When it comes to the point of total use of the grid , the first people to be shut off are the politician's and those who are members of green groups,
They should learn from their mistakes
Historically one item to sure the greens never use simple math


Thebanker, you are making the assumption that solar is the only renewable. It isn't, and it especially isn't in the US. That's not to say that solar isn't useful, because it overlaps almost perfectly with AC use.

The whole point of a grid is that it's a grid. It minimizes single points of failure, and it allows operators to use the most cost-effective sources at any given time. Frankly, we are decades past the simplistic argument that "the sun doesn't shine all day, therefore solar is useless." The fact is that solar is much cheaper than gas when the sun is shining (and it can be shining a thousand miles away), so you'll pay less overall if your grid takes advantage of that resource.
The same argument applies to wind, by the way. It may be calm where you are right now, but the wind is blowing elsewhere. That means the grid as a whole can use less gas, and your bills can be lower.


Currently in the US the cheapest time to charge an EV is off peak at night.
That is also the time when the grid is dirtiest, and burns most fossil fuel.

In the case of the US, more extensive build outs of solar, especially in under utilised areas such as work car parks etc, can not only alter the best time to charge, but minimise load on the grid to move energy about, and transformer losses etc.

As I note in a recent post, my view is also that where space is not critical, compressed CO2 storage by energy dome is likely in my view to largely overcome the issue of storing solar overnight, although of course even at 75% or so efficient ( but way cheaper than batteries for the job, and the equipment lasting for decades ) that is not as good as using it when it is generated, in this case by solar roofs on the huge amount of space available in US car parks.


If the average person drives 30 miles per day, and you get 3 miles / kWh, you need 10 kWh per car per day.
This would equate to 3 hours 20 minutes at 3 kW per night - easy enough.
If you need more, you should be able to get plenty in between 12 and 6am.
As you point out, there is no solar at night, but there is enough transmission capacity to run the house in daytime and hence excess at night, so night time charging should be viable.

Obviously, if you have your own solar and the car is at home in the day, charge then, or perhaps just charge when it is sunny (or windy), assuming the local grid can cope.

The point is, it is not a problem with a little planning.


I did not assume , I was specific, want to add batteries, wind and hydro
fine. Batteries have a lot of problems ,think fire and what has happened in Australia. Wind they made a big deal of wind today(4/8/24) off Long Island 70,000 houses out of an island with 3 mil+ household units(years to build 2% of need)
Hydro you have to think about droughts.


Jim said:

' The point is, it is not a problem with a little planning.'

A wee bit more than that, Jim!

Here is US energy consumption by source in 2021 and 2022:

So in 2022 for instance petroleum alone represented 35 quadrillion BTUs, and natural gas 33 quadrillion, whilst total solar was 1.87 quadrillion BTUs!

Switching to electric is not just for transport, but everything else such as space heating, and consumption for agriculture, mining etc.

Potential replacements including BEV for cars, and heat pumps and so on for space heating, are a heck of a lot more efficient, but the total energy consumption dwarfs the electric grid capacity,

The more local it gets, including rooftop solar and so on, the less has to be moved about through the grid, but the challenge remains enormous,


' DNV GL expects global grid capacity to triple by 2050 as electricity network operators fight to cope with a surge in electric vehicles and renewables.

The quality assurance and risk management giant said the electrification of energy demand would double by 2050 as transportation, buildings and manufacturing all increasingly go electric. Installation rates for distribution system transformers will double.'


' Having to deal with bigger grids will complicate matters for system operators. But that will not necessarily make energy more expensive.

Although absolute energy expenditure will grow by 30 percent up to 2050, rising to $6 trillion a year, most of this will shift from operational or fuel costs to capital expenses.

As a share of global gross domestic product, energy expenditure will fall 44 percent, from 5.5 percent to 3.1 percent. From 2030 onward, the bulk of capital expenditures on energy will switch from fossil-fuel projects to electricity grids and wind and solar plants, DNV GL said.

At the same time, the growth in final demand for energy will start to slow. By the mid-2030s, DNV GL estimates, global energy demand will peak at around 17 percent above 2016 levels.'


Thebanker, I'm not sure I get your point.
If you are talking about blackouts, they are way more common in antiquated grids dominated by fossil. Experience has shown that diversified modern grids are much more resilient.
Your point about a small-scale wind farm off of Long Island falls flat. We all know that the US grid is lagging behind world standards. I think you understood that when you pointed-out that this particular project only meets 2% of demand; compare that figure with other advanced economies and you'll see that the unrealized potential is huge. Thankfully, time doesn't stand still.
I'm sure that you realize that Australia's problem with fires isn't caused by a localized incident! Their massive coal dependency causes much more damage every day of the year.



re: "Potential replacements including BEV for cars, and heat pumps and so on for space heating, are a heck of a lot more efficient, but the total energy consumption dwarfs the electric grid capacity,"

BEVs and heat pumps are around 4x more efficient than using fossil fuels directly. It's worth switching even if the grid were to remain static (which it won't).
In the US specifically, most housing and commercial real estate already have air conditioning, so heat pumps are going to use less electricity than AC already does. You wouldn't use both at the same time, so grid capacity isn't an issue.
For BEVs, one estimate I heard was that the current vestigial wind generation capacity was already enough to run the US private fleet. Of course, that's not a direct switch, but it provides an order of magnitude. The grid is still growing, as it has been for 150 years, so saying that today's grid capacity is insufficient tom meet demand in 30 years is a self-evident statement. 1980's grid wouldn't meet today's demand either.



' . It's worth switching even if the grid were to remain static (which it won't).'

I would agree that it is worth switching, and have never sought to argue against it.
But it is simply a fact that the grid can't cope, and needs major development, which again I have never argued against.

' You wouldn't use both at the same time, so grid capacity isn't an issue.'

Oh yeah it is. We, or to be specific the area under present discussion, the US, has a grid developed to burn fossil fuels centrally, often fairly near large centres of demand.

Very distributed, sometimes two way systems based on renewables, or in some cases trying to shift power from for instance the windy mid West to areas where people live, is an utterly different matter.

I do not argue and have never sought to argue that that is impossible, but of course it is a huge challenge, and every academic study is fully aware of that, and the costs are substantial.


Davemart, my point about air conditioning and heat pumps being complementary is because almost everyone in the US already has AC, so evidently they have the grid capacity to support AC. Heat pumps run on the same equipment, and you can't run both at the same time, so grid capacity isn't an issue.

Sure, the grid will get cleaner as new equipment comes online and old dirty equipment is taken offline, but it's something they can handle right now and that would bring great benefit.

If anything, grid demands would be less in summer, because modern heat pumps are more efficient when used as air conditioners, compared to older AC units. Just like your modern refrigerator is more efficient than one purchased 40 or 50 years ago.

On the mobility front, one common fallacy is that you need the same amount of generating capacity for EVs as their gasoline-powered equivalents. EVs are 4x more efficient, so you only need to make-up a quarter of the gasoline equivalent. On top of that, EV charging can take place overnight when the grid has spare capacity, so a lot of the new demand can be met by existing supply.

By the way, here's real-time data on the US mainland grid mix:
Low-carbon (wind, nuclear, solar, hydro) are already higher than coal and gas. Wind capacity is growing by double-digit amounts each year, so it should overtake nuclear this year, and natural gas by the end of the decade.
It's hard to argue that something can't happen, when evidence shows that it is happening, and has been for years.



I have absolutely no idea why you are quoting a couple of days of supply matching demand as evidence that the grid is fine to cope with the enormously increased demand of running most of the car fleet for a start on elctric, winter and summer, let alone all the other things which fossil fuels currently cover.

I can only suggest that you look into the electricity supply industries own figures for the massive increases they foresee needed to cope.

Since I have no idea what you are talking about, I will refrain from further comment.


Davemart, If current data isn't enough, you can view longer periods. It's there.

As the saying goes, "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink!" I showed you where the data lives. I can't make you zoom-out to view longer trends, but that's your problem, not mine.



Do try looking at what analysis including by the power supply companies say themselves about the radical changes and massive investment needed to upgrade the grid and ready it for renewables.

So for instance:

' Renewable energy developments continue at break-neck speed, with $644 billion to be spent on new capacity in 2024, but outdated and inadequate power grids could prove to be a significant stumbling block to the energy transition. If the world is to limit global warming to 1.8 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, $3.1 trillion of grid infrastructure investments are required before 2030, according to Rystad Energy research.'

But what would they know?


What would they know? I guess it depends on who "they" are.
Apparently they are an energy consultancy working primarily for the oil sector.
"They" are telling OPEC to invest oil profits into the grid, because that's where the long-term growth will be.

Davemart, I'm not sure what point you were trying to make. Investment will be needed in the future, but that investment is already happening, as it has been for 150 years! Just this morning there was an announcement about new 735 Kilovolt transmission lines in Canada.

Summary: Investment needs to happen, and it is happening. I'm not sure why you have a problem with that.


The problem is / will be he grid, rather than the availability of solar or wind.
IN particular, solar could be on nearly every house with a south facing roof.
Maybe some kind of community solar / wind would help. Community solar could reduce the need for batteries as you can power people nearby if you don't need it yourself.
You'll still need dispatchable supply (mostly gas, with nuclear as baseload) for the many times when the sun doesn't shine and the wind doesn't blow, but you can allow say 20-30% dispatchable fossil on an annual basis if the rest is from a low carbon source.
The first 80% of fossil replacement is much easier and cheaper than the last 20%, so forget the last 20%.
(or 30%)


mahonj, it depends where you live. On the east coast of North America, hydro will be the battery. Dams refill when the Sun is shining, or the wind is blowing.

Local solar makes some sense, but I get a feeling that you can build solar cheaper if it is concentrated in bigger facilities outside of urban centres. That's the whole point of the grid: build large generating facilities instead of having everybody run their own.


22,000TWh = 22,000 billion kWh, PLEASE CORRECT

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