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Researchers at NREL Striving to Increase EV Adoption

National Renewable Energy Laboratory - Golden Colorado
National Renewable Energy Laboratory – Golden Colorado

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory [NREL] have set a goal, “to target the key innovations necessary to accelerate the rate of adoption for electric drive vehicles. In addition, our efforts are focused on scenarios that will incorporate expanded use of renewable energy resources to charge those vehicles.” – Bob Rehn, group manager.

While the averages favor the adoption of electric vehicles [EV], most consumers can’t seem to get past the perceived faults, including limited range and excessive recharging times. Infrastructure still needs to improve, and recharging stations are still fairly sparse in most areas.

Besides the installation of charging stations, there is also the question of how these will impact the power grid. Research being done at the NREL is investigating the way EVs charge on the grid, not so much how long, but when, and are finding that they only require two to four hours daily to charge. Researchers believe that adding communication protocols between the vehicles, chargers, and power grid can help to reduce the strain on the system.

Fast charging stations use a direct current, which charges EVs much faster, but could add strain to the power grid. The NREL is researching how to deploy more of these and better-utilize them. A 15- to 25-minute recharge time makes it much more accessible to EV owners, and while this isn’t nearly as fast as a refueling stop, it could lead to increased EV adoption.

Weather conditions, specifically temperature, can also affect EV range, which is already a big sticking point with those considering EV adoption. One part of the NREL’s strategy includes increasing EV range under more extreme temperature conditions, which could certainly benefit EV owners with range-jitters.

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