Electric vehicles cannot entirely displace ICEs until a solid charging infrastructure exists to keep the batteries charged quickly. A key component of this infrastructure is public charging, which, much like filling stations, guarantees that EV owners can refuel their cars without having to get home first.
The most convenient way to charge electric cars in public is by using DC fast chargers because they fill up the battery faster. However, they can also be augmented by Level 2 chargers, sometimes offered for free.
While public charging is crucial to EV ownership, the cost of setting up these charging stations can be prohibitive. The US Department of Energy estimated that a single port of a DCFC station ranges from $10,000 to $50,000, while installation and prep costs for a site could cost up to $50,000. However, there is an argument to be made for the government to step in. This article looks at why the government should subsidize the cost of charging in public. It also looks at how carbon credits can help generate the fund required.
The chicken-and-egg problem
Electric vehicles need public charging to flourish because some potential EV owners hold back for fear of running out of battery at a location where they cannot easily access a charger. However, potential investors in public charging prefer to wait until electric cars are plenty before committing their funds in order to reduce the risk.
This is the classic chicken-and-egg problem, where two events seem to depend on the outcome of each other.
Left unchecked, this impasse will persist, and EVs will continue to be a niche product for people that do not mind living on the fast lane or are wealthy enough to own multiple cars. Folks that need their vehicles to be dependable at all times will continue to stay away. The implication is that our environment continues to get polluted.
This is where the government comes in. Compared to investors, the government does not need to turn a profit. Hence, it can break the vicious cycle by providing the funds for setting up public chargers and most importantly, making them free or close to free. This intervention could come as grants, tax breaks, subsidies, etc.
However, the government has to source the fund from somewhere. The question is, where?
A carbon credit is a permit or certificate that allows the credit holder the right to emit one ton of carbon dioxide or an equivalent of another greenhouse gas. Manufacturers can trade their credits if not used up. Tesla has famously used carbon credits to generate revenue.
The government can tap into carbon credits to generate funds for subsidizing public charging to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles as a matter of national security and environmental emergency.
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