Electric charging infrastructure taking shape

  • 05-Jan-2010 01:41 EST

Coulomb Technologies has installed a number of its ChargePoint networked charging stations in the Bay Area.

News regarding the buildup of an electric charging infrastructure is coming at an ever faster pace as electric vehicles of different forms trickle into the market. It remains to be seen whether the charging infrastructure develops at a pace fast enough to meet demand, which may spike at the end of 2010 when several pure-electric and plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles are to be introduced.

Coulomb Technologies of Campbell, CA, has been busy installing charging stations in various cities and countries over the past year. The most recent installation of a Coulomb ChargePoint station was celebrated on Dec. 22 in Tucson, the company's second in that city.

Tucson is where Coulomb competitor ECOTality, through its eTec subsidiary, is working with the U.S. Department of Energy on the Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles Grid Interaction Project to determine the feasibility of transmitting the stored electrical energy in plug-in vehicles back to the grid via bidirectional fast charging. Tucson is also the location of a major initiative by Scottsdale, AZ-based ECOTality, the Pima Association of Governments (Tucson is situated in Pima County), and Nissan North America to establish a charging infrastructure in preparation for the automaker's late-2010 launch of the pure-electric Leaf.

Arizona is one of five states (California, Oregon, Tennessee, and Washington are the others) that will see installations of charging stations from eTec under a $99.8 million U.S. DOE grant. The deployment, in what's officially called the EV Project that began Oct. 1, will consist of 10,950 Level 2 (220-V) chargers, 260 Level 3 fast-chargers, and 4700 Leafs from Nissan.

Nissan is targeting certain locations for the launch the Leaf. In early December, the company announced it would work with the city of San Francisco through the Bay Area EV Corridor program to promote and develop a charging infrastructure, in addition to making the Leaf available to customers. Coulomb is an active member of the Bay Area Corridor program and has been deploying charging stations in the region.

On the other side of the country, Beautiful Earth, an operator of utility-scale solar and wind-power generation facilities, announced on Dec. 15 that it had designed and built the first solar-powered charging station in New York City. The company says it is one of only a few such stations in the world. It is off-grid, modular, constructed with recycled, decommissioned steel shipping containers, and powered exclusively by Sharp 235-W photovoltaic panels. The 6-kW station is used to charge (in 3 h) a Mini E from BMW.

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