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New carbon credits for charging stations could spur EV adoption

Non-electric vehicles fill a parking lot in Rosemead, California, where two Electric Vehicle charging stations are offered
A parking lot in Rosemead, California, with two electric vehicle charging stations. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

The Electric Vehicle Charging Carbon Coalition (EVCCC) recently announced a new method to certify the contribution of EV charging stations to the reduction of greenhouse gases (GHG). The certification would give EV charging station investors and installers access to the voluntary carbon market, which enables buyers to purchase carbon credits to offset their own emissions.

How it works: Carbon credits were first developed by the Climate Neutral Business Network and are now certified by third-party sources. One carbon credit represents a one-ton GHG reduction. EV charging stations would be able to obtain and sell these carbon credits to willing buyers — to a business that is struggling to reach a designated emissions reduction standard, for example, and wants to buy carbon credits to offset the gap.

Compared with compliance markets, where the government decides the rules about what projects are permitted, the voluntary market follows rules set by non-governmental bodies, such as the EVCCC. The carbon credits are expected to yield a 5%–10% return on EV station investment, and sales are expected to start in the voluntary carbon market in 2019.

What to watch: New longer-range EVs are coming to market to allay drivers' range anxiety. Because these vehicles will have larger and more powerful batteries, they will in turn require larger charging systems to expedite charging times. The latest technology (350kW fast chargers) installed earlier this summer claim to charge 124 miles (200 km) of range in 8 minutes. Carbon credits can be used to offset higher costs for deployment associated with this new fast-charging technology.

Why it matters: There are currently an estimated 800,000 EVs on U.S. roads as of August 2018, with 18,000 public EV charging stations. Other than cost, the key hurdles to EV adoption are range anxiety and lack of access to charging stations. As longer-range vehicles come to market, a revenue stream from carbon credits could spur new EV charging station installations and help stimulate EV adoption.

Maggie Teliska is a technical specialist at Caldwell Intellectual Property Law, an intellectual property law firm. She is also a member of GLG, a platform connecting businesses with industry experts.