Trending in a New Direction: Electrifying Transportation

Trending in a New Direction: Electrifying Transportation

By: John DeBoer, Head of Siemens eMobility Solutions and Future Grid Business in North America

Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in the National Governors Association’s (NGA) EV Grid Integration Virtual Summit, where governors and industry representatives discussed exciting trends and opportunities in the industry as states explore and implement transportation electrification.


A common theme for states and industry alike is the desire to create clean, smart, efficient cities that are electrified. And one interesting observation we’re seeing is that, with significantly less vehicles on the road, there has been drastic improvement in air quality during quarantine.


Reducing the CO₂ footprint is essential and is best done by not using energy at all. This is why energy efficiency and smart solutions for buildings and infrastructures are key to carbon reduction. Last week, Siemens announced joining The Climate Pledge, a commitment founded by Amazon and Global Optimism, to be net-zero carbon by 2040—a decade ahead of the Paris Accord’s goal of 2050. 


As the transportation sector accounts for a large portion of global greenhouse gas emissions, Siemens USA is working with and helping companies succeed in their transportation electrification journey with charging technology solutions, powering the infrastructure across various sectors, as well as planning and implementing secure grid connections to enable the growth of eMobility.


A holistic approach to energy efficiency and sophisticated technology are the key factors to reduce emissions and energy usage in cities, especially by vehicle traffic. The decarbonization process involves three powerful levers: clean buildings, clean power, and clean transportation. While the first two levers have been trending with positive impact for the last 10-20 years, clean transport will require the industry, government leaders, and more to move in a new direction. 


The United States was one of the earliest adopters in the electric transport movement, but in the last few years we have slipped behind. Fortunately, we’re seeing a strong rise in fleet electrification in 2020 and expecting a proliferation of electric vehicles to enter the market from companies like Tesla, Chevy, Ford, Rivian, Diamler, New Flyer, Nova Bus, Proterra, Gillig, Daimler, and others.


While electric cars, buses, and trucks are poised to enter the market en masse, we need to have the charging infrastructure in place to support them in homes, office buildings, parking garages, factory depots, airports, and all locations where vehicles are stored. It’s also important to keep in mind that charging infrastructure is not just the charging station and vehicle—there’s a much broader view of “plug to grid” that includes the connection of the vehicle to its new source of energy, the electric grid.  This connection includes elements such as electrical substations, transformers, low-voltage distribution apparatus, busway, and disconnecting devices.


To support these efforts and help cities prepare for electrified transport, Siemens eMobility solutions has deployed 65,000 chargers across the United States, from 4KW chargers for homes to 600KW chargers that help run bus lines in some of the largest cities in the country.


In addition to having the infrastructure in place, and to further support local success, it’s critical to bring an end to the islands of proprietary data. Instead, we should push for nationwide charging networks and mandates for open standards for charging infrastructure to increase return on investment (ROI) and bring value to the market. With open standards ecosystems, there’s open payment across multiple vendors to benefit all users while also reducing the risk of stranding assets in the rapidly evolving eMobility ecosystem. 


These are just a few examples of the opportunities and challenges we’re facing in the journey toward electrified transportation, and we’re still learning. I’m encouraged by the conversations that took place during NGA’s EV Grid Integration Virtual Summit and look forward to the continued sharing insights and lessons learned to ensure a successful, sustainable, electrified future.


Published on: October 7, 2020