As part of his plan to put the brakes on carbon emissions, President Obama wants to get one million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.
Sure, getting all those EVs on the road is a great step toward going green. But what about the infrastructure to support an influx of EVs?
Currently, there are about 1,300 public EV charging stations for plug-in vehicles in the United States.
Thanks to the help of $100 million in government funds, through the Transportation Electrification Initiative, thousands more are on the way. And according to ABI Research, we can expect to see over 1.4 million chargers (both residential and public) in the United States by 2016.
But no matter how well electric vehicles reduce emissions, EV charging stations still need to tap into the electricity grid.
Like Wired says, “‘Zero emissions’ is a tricky phrase. Electric vehicles produce zero emissions at the tailpipe, but more often than not there are emissions at the power plant.”
Luckily, the hunt for a viable solution is underway as we speak…
Solar and Wind Can Clear Your EV’s Conscience
~ The Solar Powered Parking Lot
In May, General Electric (NYSE: GE) opened a Solar Carport in a parking lot at its Energy Industrial Solutions plant. The company’s using it to charge the first wave of its 25,000 hybrid vehicle fleet it pledged to buy from GM last year. But it’s also open to the public.
Basically, you just pull up like you would at a regular gas station and plug in. And the carport provides 125 megawatt-hours of electricity annually.
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On a daily basis, the carport harnesses enough solar power to charge up to 13 EVs without resorting to electricity from the grid. That’s 4,745 charges a year.
~ Skypump Tops Off Your EV With Wind
GE also recently began to sell a wall-mounted charging station to consumers. The 240-volt WattStation hits five Lowe’s (NYSE: LOW) stores in California this month. They’re retailing for $1,000, and can juice up your EV in four to eight hours.
To get your WattStation off the grid, though, Urban Green Energy has partnered with GE to funnel wind power to the wall charging unit with its UGE-4K wind turbine.
Plus, the companies announced last month that they’re also collaborating on a commercial charging unit – the Sanya Skypump.
This charging system combines the power of GE’s WattStation and the UGE-4K turbine with solar panels. Standing at 42 feet high, they’re not much taller than standard light towers you’ll see on a suburban block.
Skypumps are being installed in New York, Beijing and Barcelona this year. And a worldwide rollout is in the works for 2012.
So at least that’s a start toward going 100% green.
Bottom line: As EVs gain traction in the months and years ahead, companies creating innovative – and eco-friendly – charging solutions are certainly worthy of your consideration.