Road transport is responsible for 18% of the global CO2 emissions from fuel combustion – which makes decarbonisation through electrification of this sector one of the key levers on the pathway to net zero. Given that the electric power sector is the first to decarbonise under the IEA Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario (hereafter, “Net Zero Scenario”), speeding the transition to electric vehicles is vital to achieving this outcome. A successful deployment of electric vehicles requires sufficient and reliable charging infrastructure. Policy frameworks that are appropriate for the local circumstances will support this roll-out in advanced and emerging economies.     

“Range anxiety” – the fear of not being able to reach one’s destination – is one of the main concerns that drivers have when considering the purchase of an electric vehicle (EV). To ensure the swift adoption of EVs, policy makers therefore need to ensure that sufficient, reliable and easy-to-use charging infrastructure is available. Experience has shown that perceptions about charging infrastructure availability correlate positively with electric vehicle adoption. Other benefits of a ubiquitous charging network include avoiding gaps in charging access and the reduced pressure on increasing battery sizes.

Options for EV charging are diverse, creating many opportunities. Electric vehicles can be charged at any number of locations and without supervision – in contrast to conventional internal combustion engine vehicles, which can only refuel at service stations. 

Charging infrastructure solutions

Charging Infrastructure Locations

Notes: This figure includes both privately and publicly accessible charging locations.

EV charging can occur at different moments in the driver’s journey – at home, at work, on the road, or while shopping. For some vehicle models, the discharged battery can also be exchanged for a charged one at a battery-swapping station. With such a variety of options, charging can be readily adapted to suit different use cases.

However, there is no “one size fits all” solution: the diversity of EV charging systems, both in terms of location and charging speeds, also explains the wide variety of business models and roll-out strategies. The most efficient solution will depend on the situation, the type of vehicle, and the driver profile. Policy makers should consider the driving habits and needs of constituents in their jurisdiction before elaborating a strategy for deploying charging infrastructure. Important considerations include: Household living arrangements; rural versus urban structures; traffic patterns; plans for future road infrastructure; the profiles of early EV adopters; the types and uses of vehicles already on the roads; the capacity and connectivity of the existing power grid; the availability of renewable electricity; and the deployment stage of EVs. All these factors will have a significant influence on decision making and should be used to tailor to use cases. 

Since utilisation rates are likely be low in the early deployment stages, policy makers at every level have a crucial role to play in helping reduce range anxiety and encourage market-driven solutions for installing the charging network. Facilitating communication with the public; issuing mandates and regulations to suppliers, contractors, utilities and other stakeholders; organising public tenders; offering financing or loan guarantees; making public land available for charging sites; as well as upgrading and extending the power grid are just some of the policy instruments at their disposal.

Our report lays out five key recommendations to policy makers to ensure that the deployment of public EV charging infrastructure goes as smoothly and as efficiently as possible. They are discussed in detail below, but in summary we advise the following:

Break down the silos: Institutional structures need to be re-thought and re-organised to foster discussions on EV charging infrastructure across sectors (power, transport and urban planning). Dialogue between institutions and jurisdictions needs to be encouraged. Designated contact people need to be assigned to manage Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) installation processes and staff need to be provided sufficient resources and training.

Tailor your strategy: Collect relevant transport and associated data to obtain a clear picture of your jurisdiction. Identify the EV types and users that have the strongest presence and needs. Encourage shifts toward shared transport modes and infrastructure and then incorporate the impact of this on EV charging requirements.

Showcase EV charging as a political priority: Attract private investment by signalling that the transition to EVs is at top of your agenda. Facilitate communication between stakeholders and streamline and clarify your permitting processes.

Encourage standardisation: Make sure that users have access to transparent and reliable information about charging stations and pricing. Ensure a high quality of charging service by integrating performance requirements into your public tenders and support measures. Encourage interoperability across competing charging networks through common technical standards and roaming agreements.

Future-proof your infrastructure: Carefully consider your targets for the future fleet and other transportation strategies and build them into your planning. Promote “smart” metering and smart charging. Ensure that the charging networks built out today are sufficiently adaptable and scalable for your needs down the road. Ensure that the EV charging solutions you adopt favour the use of low-carbon electricity.