Roadmap to Electrifying Transportation

The purpose of this roadmap is to be a step-by-step guide to help small and mid-sized urban communities effectively plan for and make investment decisions regarding sustainable electrification of the transportation sector, specifically, through consideration of options for deploying solar photovoltaic and/or battery energy storage in conjunction with electric vehicle charging equipment. More specifically, the document was written with city planners, city commissions/leadership, transportation and sustainability advisory groups, and transit agencies in mind. It is for communities whose transportation, growth, sustainability, climate action, energy, and/or community planning is considering increased integration of electrified transportation and/or renewable energy technology.

What’s in the Roadmap?

    • Background: Information on electrification of the transportation sector, electric vehicles (EVs), and integration of solar and/or battery storage for EV charging.
    • Key Examples of Electric Vehicles and Charging Equipment: Also known as “Key Use Cases”, these are examples of the types of electric vehicles, and their corresponding charging equipment.
    • Essential Steps for Electrifying Transportation: Guidance for planning and executing solar powered transportation projects, including engagement within the community and with the local energy provider.
    • Use Case Considerations: Opportunities and tradeoffs regarding solar, electric transportation charging, and storage system design.
    • Costs and Financing Discussion: Details about how costs can differ depending on context and use case, and how to manage those costs through financing options.
    • Pilot Projects and Demonstrations: Instruction on how pilot and demonstration projects can help test and exemplify the potential for use cases to thrive in your community.
    • Regulation and Policy: Discussion of how regulations and policy can impact deployment of electric vehicles.

Download the Roadmap: Navigating Options for Transportation Electrification and Solar Charging


According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global emissions in transportation increased by 2.5% annually between 2010 and 2015. This makes transportation the fastest growing greenhouse gas emissions sector in the world. In most countries, including the United States, the largest source of transportation related greenhouse gas emissions are passenger cars and light duty trucks, which account for over half of the emissions from the transportation sector. While energy efficiency and cleaner sources of energy generation are reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector, emissions for the transportation sector continue to rise in both absolute and relative terms.

Rhodium Group. “Final US Emissions Estimates for 2018.” May 31,2019. 

Transitioning transportation away from petroleum-based fuels and towards electric vehicles has economic, environmental and societal benefits. The benefits of electric vehicles are unique for every community and depend on what type of vehicles are deployed, the energy source(s) for the electricity used to charge the vehicles in each location, how electric vehicles are used, and even what time of day the vehicles are charging.

Key Examples of Electric Vehicles (Use Cases)
    • Light Duty Private Vehicles, Public Charging: Passenger vehicles for personal use, charging at publicly accessible electric vehicle charging stations and locations. Public charging can be free or require payment for use.
    • Light Duty Fleet Vehicles, Private Charging: Passenger vehicles for public or private fleet use, charging at locations available to fleet vehicles only.
    • Public Transit, Depot Charging: Electric transit bus charging that happens at the bus depot, usually overnight. Chargers can be alternating current or direct current and can operate at lower power levels.
    • Public Transit, On-Route Charging: Electric transit buses charging at locations along routes, usually at locations when they are stopping to drop off and pick up passengers. On-route charging requires higher direct current power charging to deliver power in a short amount of time.
Essential Steps for Electrifying Transportation
  1.  Assess Community and Stakeholder Goals and Priorities: It is critical to bring key community stakeholders to the table to bolster community buy-in and support for project goals and outcomes. This input helps ensure that communities are involved in decision-making processes from the project’s formative stages and onward. Understanding community-specific context makes the implementation of electric transportation smoother and more effective.
  2.  Prioritize Electric Transportation and Charging Options and Use Cases: Ranking community goals helps illuminate which electric transportation benefits would be most important to the community. This ranking exercise helps to prioritize the benefits and tradeoffs of specific electric transportation and identify the types of electric transportation projects to pursue.
  3.  Analyze Economic and Environmental Costs and Benefits of Vehicle and Charging Options: After determining the electric transportation options (light duty vehicles, fleet vehicles, public transit, etc.) that the community wants to prioritize, stakeholders can conduct a more in-depth environmental and economic analyses to help answer key questions about where to charge, when to charge, and options for charging the vehicles with renewable energy.
  4. Determine Electric Vehicle Costs, Ownership and Financing Options: After communities have considered and analyzed what type of electric transportation and charging infrastructure they want to invest in, they can then consider the upfront costs and operating costs of the vehicles and associated infrastructure, the impact of utility rate design, and financing options that are available.
Use Case Considerations

Installing solar PV technology in conjunction with electric vehicle charging infrastructure has the potential to enhance the benefits of electric vehicles. Solar PV can provide a clean, locally produced fuel, reduce the customer’s cost of purchasing electricity for charging, and provide benefits for the overall electric grid.

There are several configurations to consider when integrating solar with electric vehicles. Each scenario presents different benefits and trade-offs. To harness these benefits, a community should assess their options for how to pair EVSE with renewable energy and storage. A discussion of those questions and best practices is provided in Section 5.3.1 of the Roadmap report.

Costs and Financing Discussion

After communities have considered and analyzed what type of electric transportation and charging infrastructure they want to invest in, they can then consider the upfront costs and operating costs of the vehicles and associated infrastructure, the impact of utility rate design, and the financing options that are available.

In section 5.4 of the Roadmap, the multiple factors that impact the total cost, and savings, of a transition to EVs are discussed along with incentives, group buy programs, financing and leasing options, grant programs and other more unique programs that support this transition.

Pilot Projects and Demonstrations

Pilot projects and demonstrations are a useful way to test out and refine programs, policies, and project designs before committing significant resources to a larger effort. According to the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), a pilot project should focus on answering technical questions before moving on to more business-focused demonstration. Demonstrations, then, are designed to validate the business case for moving from small-scale tests to fully integrated market deployment and can test all topic areas in an integrated project. RMI suggests that project leads make use of both pilots and demonstrations to maximize learning and prepare for eventual full-scale deployment.

Fairbrother, Courtney, Leia Guccione, Mike Henchen, and Anthony Teixeira. Pathways for Innovation: The Role of Pilots and Demonstrations in Reinventing the Utility Business Model. Rocky Mountain Institute, 2017.

Regulation and Policy

It is important for communities to understand existing policies and policy options that can support electric transportation. State and city level policies and incentives are helping advance electric vehicle adoption. Electric vehicle policies usually fall under one of the stated policy goals listed in Table 1. This table contains a representative but not exhaustive list of policies for each category.

Download the Roadmap: Navigating Options for Transportation Electrification and Solar Charging