Rapid growth for electric vehicle charging stations expected in U.S.

Electric vehicle charging stations will be more prevalent in the United States by 2017 as cost of charging stations equipment drops, according to a new report by Pike Research released today.

The report forecasts more than 1.5 million charging locations will be available in the U.S., with a total of 7.7 million locations worldwide. Currently, there is more than 1,000 electric vehicle charging stations in the U.S., including 101 public charging stations in Texas, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

The rise in charging station locations will be spurred by a 37 percent decrease in the price of charging equipment and the growing demand for electric vehicles.

“Basic electric vehicle supply equipment will quickly become a commodity,” said John Gartner, a senior analyst with Pike. “In the face of this trend, manufacturers will integrate their equipment with external storage units, home energy management systems, and smart grid equipment to add value and increase their revenue.”

The Pike report forecasts that more companies will begin to offer charging stations to help stabilize grid operations and tap a new revenue stream as electric vehicles become more popular. Many companies, including IKEA and Walgreens, have announced plans to install electric vehicle charging stations in parking lots.

Houston is considered a top U.S. city for electric vehicle infrastructure. NRG Energy chose Houston to launch its new eVgo charging network business earlier this year.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, there are more than 45,000 electric vehicles on the road in the U.S. today. President Barack Obama set a goal during his State of the Union address for one million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.

However, the report notes that electric vehicles shouldn’t impact grid operators’ ability to generate and distribute power.

“In some areas, peak demand could be increased or the peak hours extended later into the evening if customers are not incentivized to charge off peak,” the report notes. “The impact of power delivered through [electric vehicle supply equipment] could shorten the lifespan of some neighborhood distribution equipment, such as transformers or power lines.”

To read Pike’s executive summary, click here.