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United States:

Electric Vehicles Deployment

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A major pillar of the Biden Administration’s Climate Week
announcements centered around the deployment of electric vehicles
(EVs). The Biden Administration has continued to emphasize the
deployment of EVs given the potential for significant reductions of
greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in tandem with advancement of
American industry and workers.

The Climate Week announcements included actions from three
agencies: the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), U.S.
Department of Energy (DOE) and General Services Administration
(GSA). Respectively, the announcements were designed to support and
encourage the deployment of EV charging infrastructure,
charger-related research and development, and federal
procurement.

DOT

Significant federal attention has been paid to electrification
and the deployment of infrastructure to support EVs along major
U.S. thoroughfares, including interstates and major roads. The goal
of developing these highly electrified corridors is to relieve
range anxiety that deters otherwise interested consumers from
purchasing EVs, affording most Americans the ability to recharge
their vehicles quickly while in transit on major interstates and
highways.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s primary contribution
to the Climate Week announcements was a fifth round of “Alternative Fuel Corridor” designations.
This program, created by the Fixing America’s Surface
Transportation Act (FAST Act) in 2015, recognizes highway segments
that have infrastructure plans to allow travel on alternative
fuels, including electricity, hydrogen, propane and natural gas.
The Round 5 designations will make eligible for federal funding and
assistance routes from 25 states for 51 interstates and 50 U.S.
highways and state roads. With this announcement, only two states
remain without an EV corridor designation: South Dakota and
Mississippi.

In addition to these designations, the DOT also issued a new report clarifying how its
programs can be used for EV charging infrastructure. Many existing
programs have EV charging infrastructure as a possible use; this
guidance expands how many funded entities will take advantage of
the opportunities to the tune of $41.9 billion in federal grant
funding in 15 specific programs.

DOE

DOE’s role in the deployment of EVs has primarily focused on
technology research, development, demonstration and deployment.
Climate Week announcements leverage funding across these four
categories through the Vehicle Technologies Office.

The U.S. Department of Energy announced new research funding opportunities on
three EV charging-related topics:

  • $10 million to research, develop and demonstrate innovative
    technologies and designs to significantly reduce the cost of
    electric vehicle supply equipment for DC Fast Charging that will be
    needed in large number to support high volumes of EVs.
  • $20 million to accelerate the adoption of commercially
    available plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) and supporting
    infrastructure through community-based public-private partnerships
    that demonstrate PEV technologies (for cars, buses, school buses,
    trucks) and infrastructure in various innovative applications and
    share resulting data, lessons learned and best practices with a
    broader audience. Projects that demonstrate the ability to
    accelerate clean energy jobs or provide new electric transportation
    solutions to underserved communities are of interest.
  • $4 million to encourage strong partnerships and new programs to
    increase workplace charging regionally or nationally, which will
    help increase the feasibility of PEV ownership for consumers in
    underserved communities (e.g., demographics that currently have
    minimal access to home charging).

In addition to the funding opportunity announcements, the
administration announced two new reports led by DOE to help lay the
groundwork for further EV deployment:

  • DOE and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) also
    announced a national EV charging technical blueprint, including
    fast charging and grid interaction. This blueprint will assess
    needs in terms of connectivity, communication, protocols from
    utility down to vehicle, to support electrification of the full
    vehicle fleet.
  • DOE announced that the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) is
    partnering with global and domestic automakers to analyze anonymous
    vehicle charging data that describe market-level trends of
    operation and charging behavior for a large sample of U.S. consumer
    EVs. To guide this work, DOE, INL and automakers formed a working
    group to provide feedback on INL analysis and modeling
    efforts.

Procurement

President Biden’s Executive Order 14008 (EO) released in
January, Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and
Abroad, 
gives nearly every federal agency a role in
tackling carbon emissions. In particular, the EO gave direction to
all federal agencies to transition the federal fleet to clean and
zero-emissions vehicles as part of the federal government’s
demonstration of leadership in the transition to a low-carbon
economy on the path to net-zero. The EO further directs the Council
on Environmental Quality (CEQ), U.S. General Services
Administration (GSA) and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to
develop a comprehensive plan to convert all federal, state, local
and tribal fleets to “clean and zero-emission vehicles,”
while complying with Buy American requirements as part of
procurement decisions.

During Climate Week, CEQ and GSA announced early progress in
responding to the EO. Since inauguration day, the administration
has acquired more zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) than in the whole
previous fiscal year. The administration further announced that the
federal government is on track to triple the number of total ZEVs
added to the fleet this year compared to last.

While these EOs continue to create far-reaching opportunity for
multiple clean energy sectors, limitations remain. First, the
federal procurement EO left discretion to federal agencies’
interpretation and plan for action. Second, funding for the shift
to zero-emission vehicles for government fleets will be limited by
available appropriations for each agency and the availability of
third-party financing options. Executive Orders cannot change
existing laws; therefore, agencies cannot spend money that has not
been appropriated to them by Congress.

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