October 24, 2022 | Updated: May 11, 2023
If you had a crystal ball, and could peer into the future, you’d probably see electric vehicles (EV). Millions of them.
According to the International Energy Agency, electric vehicles accounted for 9 percent of sales globally in 2021.
But that’s going to change. Several automakers have announced plans to go fully electric by 2030, with most others announcing plans to phase out internal combustion engines over a longer timeframe.
To propel the sale of EVs, lots of other changes may have to occur – better battery technology, faster charging batteries and more charging stations.
Transportation is widely seen as one of the top five industries that will be most impacted by technology in 2023 – cited by 39% of technology leaders surveyed respondents in “The Impact of Technology in 2023 and Beyond: an IEEE Global Study.”
Transportation accounts for roughly one-quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. The transition from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles is critical to avoiding the worst effects of climate change.
And it’s not just automakers that are eyeing technologies to improve sustainability; 94% of respondents in the same study agree their company has prioritized sustainability goals for 2023 and beyond, so any technologies they implement are required to be energy-efficient and help shrink their carbon footprint.
From the Grid to the Gas Station
The rise of EVs will also bring about changes to the infrastructure all around us. Governments across the world are pushing to build more EV charging stations. India, for example, is working on a plan to add an EV charging station for every 40 to 60 kilometers of national highway by 2023, said Inderpreet Kaur, an IEEE Senior Member. In the U.S., the Inflation Reduction Act contains provisions for tax credits to encourage an EV charging infrastructure buildout.
But several roadblocks remain on the path to mass electrification of transportation. In the U.S. at least, most people charge their vehicles at home, or at the office while they are at work.
Homes with garages and driveways may have an easy time installing a charging station. But residents in older homes, or drivers that live in cities or areas where on-street parking predominates don’t have such opportunities.
And in colder climates, a charging station also serves to “condition” EV batteries, making them more efficient when temperatures plunge. A limited number of charging stations – especially in shopping center parking lots or office complexes – may exacerbate concerns about range anxiety (a fear of running out of power with no station to recharge nearby).
IEEE Member Kyrie Baker points out that simultaneous charging of a large number of EVs can exacerbate peak electricity demand and strain existing infrastructure.
“Smart charging strategies and ways to coordinate EV charging can help mitigate some of the issues with power line and transformer overloading,” Baker said.
To resolve the stress, operators could use machine learning techniques to design pricing structures that encourage off-peak charging.
In the end, your crystal ball may see lots of electric cars, but there’s a whole lot of changes that go along with it.
“The Impact of Technology in 2023 and Beyond: an IEEE Global Study” surveyed 350 CIOs, CTOs, IT directors and other technology leaders in the U.S., China, U.K., India and Brazil at organizations with more than 1,000 employees across multiple industry sectors including banking and financial services, consumer goods, education, electronics, engineering, energy, government, healthcare, insurance, retail, technology and telecommunications.
Learn more: What does it take to build a smart charging system that allows users to fuel their electric vehicles cleanly, inexpensively, and without excess stress on the electrical grid? Research from the IEEE Power and Energy Society explores that question.