The Costs and Challenges of Installing Corridor DC Fast Chargers in California
Electric Vehicle Research Center
Gamage, Tisura, Gil Tal, Alan Jenn (2023) The Costs and Challenges of Installing Corridor DC Fast Chargers in California. Case Studies on Transport Policy
A national network of DC Fast Charging infrastructure (DCFC) corridors can facilitate connectivity and long-distance travel using battery electric vehicles (BEVs). Optimal locations of such facilities are where BEV drivers have easy access to charging where drivers will not have to make any deviation from their pre-planned trips. Such optimally located corridor DCFCs are usually in remote, underserved communities and immediately next to a highway where they lack the advantages of shared utility infrastructure in an urban setting. Therefore, we find that other studies and industry knowledge of infrastructure investments do not apply to corridor DCFC locations. This study evaluates the full project costs of installing and commissioning 54 DC Fast Chargers in 36 sites located in major transportation corridors in California and finds significant variation in costs between them. While existing studies show costs ranging from $20,000 - $150,000, we find costs range anywhere between $122,000 and $440,000. This data is critical for new investment in the U.S. to construct a national charging network of DC Fast charging corridors. We find that a significant proportion of the full project costs are taken up by on site “make-ready infrastructure” costs that vary greatly due to site-specific factors and design choices. DCFC installations should be considered civil construction projects with significant electrical infrastructure planning and installation that requires the cooperation of many local stakeholders. We find that costs can be greatly reduced by working with local electrical utilities early in the design and site selection stages when possible. Our study finds that some cost shift towards utility side costs can greatly reduce overall construction costs for sites along highways. We also find that grid-connected DCFC design are substantially cheaper than off-grid solar powered DCFC with onsite storage.
Key words: Battery electric vehicles, Corridor chargers, DC fast charging infrastructure, Make-ready infrastructure