skip to main content
skip to newscasts

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Public News Service Logo
facebook instagram linkedin reddit youtube twitter
view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

Republicans have put Merrick Garland in contempt; state legislators are missing people from working class jobs and FDA has advised for formulation of vaccine for new covid strain.

view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

House Republicans vote to hold AG Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress. The Senate battles it out over federal protections for in vitro fertilization. North Dakota becomes the first state to impose an age cutoff to run for Congress.

view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

Rural America's job growth is up, but still hasn t recovered from the pandemic, about one in five rural Americans live in a town with a prison, rural women seeking birth control have a new option and dark skies beckon as summer arrives.

Building Solutions for 'Range Anxiety' Can Boost Electric Vehicle Transition

play audio

Monday, June 5, 2023   

By Whitney Bauck for Reasons to be Cheerful and Nexus Media News.
Broadcast version by Eric Galatas for Colorado News Connection reporting for the Solutions Journalism Network-Public News Service Collaboration

When Trondheim-based Magnus Korpås bought his first electric car in 2019, he settled on a Tesla-the model of car that offered the most charging stations available to him at the time. However, in just a few years, Norway built out its charging infrastructure so quickly that no matter what type of electric vehicle (EV) you choose, there's virtually always a charging point nearby.

"In Norway, we're quite used to electric vehicles. This is the common car now," says the professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. "You diverge from the standard if you buy something else, really."

For the past three decades, Norway has doggedly endeavored to electrify its vehicle fleet, using a mix of infrastructure investments, subsidies and regulations to nudge people into electric cars. The results have been remarkable: 20% of cars on the road are EVs, and Norway was the first country in the world to see EV car sales begin to outpace fossil fuel car sales. Today, 80% of new cars sold in Norway are electric.

By comparison, the U.S. is woefully lagging. It is estimated that less than 1% of cars on U.S. roads are electric, and while EV sales are rapidly growing stateside, they still account for just under 5% of new cars sold in the country. The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is meant to help speed the transition from fossil fuel cars to EVs as part of a bid to reduce the country's greenhouse gas emissions, about 27% of which are attributable to transportation.

While the IRA is designed to promote EV uptake through purchase subsidies, it simultaneously aims to vastly expand the U.S.'s EV charging network. Range anxiety, concern that a car will run out of charge while out on the road, is a significant factor keeping Americans from buying EVs. While many climate advocates argue that reducing transportation emissions requires strengthening public transit options and making cities more bikeable and walkable, promoting EV adoption is the fix most prominent in the IRA.

"There's strong consensus that vehicle electrification is a big part of the [climate] solution. But you can't do that without having the charging infrastructure," says Ben Shapiro, the manager of the Carbon-Free Transportation team at the clean energy think tank Rocky Mountain Institute. "From a climate perspective, it's imperative."

According to Shapiro, the U.S. needs "orders of magnitude more charging infrastructure than we have today" to reach its goal of making half of all vehicle sales zero-emissions by 2030. Norway-which has more EVs per capita, and more chargers per EV, than any other place in the world-offers a roadmap for how to get there.

The great buildout

Up to this point, EV charging infrastructure in the U.S. has been driven largely by private investment. Tesla has installed more than 163,000 chargers across the country, but its chargers only work on Teslas for now (though that's scheduled to change soon). In January, Mercedes-Benz announced that it would install 2,500 high-powered chargers that will work with any car by 2027, following Volkswagen's 2021 announcement that it planned to have 10,000 fast chargers in North America by 2025.

In Norway, too, Tesla was the first major commercial player to begin building out public charging stations in an effort to make its product more appealing. As EV adoption continued to increase in the 2000s and 2010s, the Norwegian government stepped in to ensure charging points were easy to use and equitably distributed. It invested 7 million euros to create 1,900 charging points by 2011.

Parallel measures to increase charging accessibility started to ramp up in the U.S. with the passage of recent policy like the IRA and Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill (BIL). The latter invests $7.5 billion in EV charging with the goal of building out a network of 500,000 chargers across the nation by 2030, while the former restores expired tax credits for installing EV chargers in low-income communities and rural areas. The Biden administration finalized new standards that will make U.S. charging infrastructure available to everyone, regardless of what brand of car they drive. (Tesla's formerly exclusive Supercharger network will soon be open to all brands of EVs).

Norway offers additional lessons for prioritizing equity. Since more than 82% of EV users in Norway charge their vehicles at home, housing associations can apply for grants that subsidize up to 50 percent of the cost of buying and installing communal chargers. The Norwegian government also created "a law that parking garages have to establish the basic infrastructure, like having the electricity available," says assistant general secretary of the Norwegian EV Association Petter Haugneland.

Improving grid capacity

Analysis from S&P Global estimates that the U.S. needs to quadruple the number of EV chargers between 2022 and 2025 to keep pace with the EVs that will be on the road. If Norway's experience is any indicator, encouraging EV adoption itself might be the best tool the U.S. has to increase charger proliferation.

According to Korpås, Norway's path to charging point saturation started by stimulating more demand for EVs-just as the U.S. has done with EV purchase tax credits embedded in the IRA. But while the U.S. only incentivizes EV purchases, Norway also disincentivizes purchases of non-electric cars. Its "polluter pays" principle means that fossil fuel cars are taxed higher than EVs. The purchase tax on fossil fuel-burning cars is calculated by a combination of weight and emissions, which means bigger, more polluting cars are more expensive.

Because Norway is a cold country that had already built out extensive grid capacity to handle the population's heating needs-most of which are met with electricity-the Norwegian grid was decently equipped to handle the energy demand from EVs, Korpås says. In other words, the grid infrastructure was already in place even if public chargers were not.

Much like Norway, about 80% of EV charging in the U.S. happens at home. But the U.S.'s grid doesn't have as much relative capacity as Norway's, in part because the U.S. tends to rely more on natural gas for heating. Expanding EV charging infrastructure in the U.S. will rely more on building out the electrical grid's overall capacity than on building more public charging ports.

Another contributing factor to Norway's success adopting EVs is its deep pockets - which is, in no small part, due to its status as a major oil exporter. The country of 5 million people collected almost $90 billion in tax revenue from the oil and gas industry last year, according to Norwegian officials, and its per capita gross domestic product is $20,000 more than the United States', per World Bank data. And while the IRA has freed up funding for climate initiatives stateside, many decarbonization projects have and will continue to run into dead ends until the U.S. begins to more proactively plan its grid buildout.

"There's a pretty significant investment that will need to take place to support all of this new electrical demand," says RMI's Shapiro. "That's not only an electric utility issue, that's also a regulatory issue. We have a lot of work to do from an electric sector public policy perspective to enable the utilities to move more quickly on this to get ahead of the growing demand for charging." Part of what that means, he says, is streamlining the permitting process so utilities can quickly invest in infrastructure that can anticipate future electricity needs.

According to Haugneland, the Norwegian EV Association's members use public fast chargers about twice a month, and a host of third-party charging companies are stepping in to take advantage of the growing market. Companies like Recharge and Eviny are establishing fast chargers, which can charge an EV battery to about 80% capacity in 30-45 minutes. These stations are everywhere from traditional gas stations to grocery stores to McDonalds', with a growing number of chargers outside the major cities for when people take longer trips.

'You can't copy everything'

These days, one of the biggest frustrations Norwegian EV drivers face, according to Haugneland and Korpås, is that there's no easy, centralized way to find or pay for charging across all the different platforms. If the U.S. can get ahead of that problem by ensuring a more standardized approach to locating and paying for public charging, as the Biden administration has committed to, it will benefit drivers, Haugneland says. So will a streamlined permitting policy that allows electric utilities to build out grid infrastructure more quickly so they can meet increased electricity demand from EVs, Shapiro says.

"The European and U.S. market may be five years behind, but hopefully you will catch up very soon," says Haugneland. "Of course you can't copy everything, but I think there's a lot of learning to be done from the Norwegian market."

Whitney Bauck wrote this article for Reasons to be Cheerful.

get more stories like this via email

more stories
South Dakota loses up to 100,000 acres of grasslands annually, according to the South Dakota Grassland Coalition. Grassland bird species are declining faster than any other group on the continent. (Gregory Johnston/Adobe Stock)


play sound

About 1.6 million acres of Great Plains grasslands were destroyed in 2021 alone, according to a recent report, an area the size of Delaware. One …

Social Issues

play sound

Help is available for people looking to break out of a low-wage, "go-nowhere" job because the nonprofit Merit America is expanding its training …

play sound

The University of Wyoming is scrambling to address a major funding cut state legislators passed in a footnote to the state budget. During this …

play sound

Summer temperatures are one more reason for concern by environmental groups about the nuclear waste stored along the Great Lakes. There are three …

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the American Heart Association. It claimed more lives in 2021 than all forms of cancer and chronic lower respiratory disease combined. (Adobe Stock)

Health and Wellness

play sound

A North Carolina woman is highlighting how important knowing your family history can be in matters of the heart. According to the American Heart …

Social Issues

play sound

New Hampshire ranks first in the nation for overall child well-being but trauma and pandemic-related learning loss continue to impact students…


play sound

Walk through a store or schools, and there's a chance the overhead lighting will come from long fluorescent tubes. Minnesota is taking steps to phase …


Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021