Esri and Arup supercharge EV infrastructure with geospatial data

Geospatial analysis is helping both sides of the Atlantic work out where we need EV chargers. Here is how it works.

The problem

EV adoption targets are ambitious. The UK, for example, will ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in 2030. In the US, the White House wants EVs to make up 50% of vehicle sales that same year.

But the infrastructure isn’t there.

California – home to about 40% of EVs in the US – has fewer than 80,000 public and shared private EV chargers, as of the start of 2022. The California Energy Commission has said the state needs 1.2m by 2030.

What’s real estate’s role in EV infrastructure?

In order to meet EV demand, we need public chargers outside supermarkets and offices. We need more roadside retailers and forecourt operators.

Great, so we install more chargers. Where’s the hitch?

Not only do we need a lot of public chargers, they need to be in the right place. According to UK real estate consultancy Carter Jonas, about 100 possible sites need to be considered for every new charging station.

This is partly due to fierce competition for land and, therefore, high attrition rates. But it’s also because EV chargers need to be in places where they can serve the optimal number of customers – and where they have the right power grid connections.

Because there are so many variables involved, installing EV chargers tends to happen on a case-by-case basis, rather than at scale.

So what do we do?

The solution is geospatial analysis. In the UK, Carter Jonas uses Esri GIS (Geographic Information System) to gather all the necessary data about sites. This includes:

  • Open source data from Ordnance Survey, the Office for National Statistics and Department for Transport
  • Demographic data from Esri’s Living Atlas collection of geographic information
  • Traffic and population density
  • Number of home charging points (current and forecast)
  • Commuter journeys
  • Power grid data

Using that data, Carter Jonas creates both strategy papers for clients, such as local authorities, and interactive online maps. Users can query maps and play around with a range of variables to see how well a specific location meets EV charging needs.

What is the industry doing in the US?

Charge4All Map

A map from Charge4All showing charging infrastructure suitability

In California, Arup worked with the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator to develop Charge4All, a tool that streamlines the process of pinpointing suitable sites.

Like the Carter Jonas tool, Charge4All uses a wide range of geospatial data to determine whether a site is suitable for housing a charger. Depending on an individual user’s goals, they can overlay all kinds of information on the map, such as building density, road types and vehicle miles travelled.

Importantly, the project consciously factored in things like socioeconomic status, access to fuel and lack of off-street parking to ensure that the state rolls out EV infrastructure to every community that needs it.

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