Florida Renewable Energy Expo: Results!

Friday, October 30, 2009 0 comments
My presentations went GREAT!  I had over 60 people in my sessions and I got some good market research back from them on the questions I asked during the presentation.  I also got a request to present to a group in Boca Raton, FL and I was invited to be on the "Get Ready" Central Florida team.  It was fun!

The attendees actively participated in the presentation (I like to get their reaction to things) and asked some good questions back.  In both sessions, people asked about battery swaps (Smarter Planet) and whether the grid could handle the extra load.  The weird thing is that I created slides that addressed these issues, but I hid them because I was worried about time (the presentation took an hour with questions).

Throughout the presentation, the three central points that I kept reiterating were Cheaper, Cleaner, and Energy Independence.  From talking to people after , they got the message...my work was done.  If you would like me to present to your group, just let me know. 

Florida Renewable Energy Expo

Tuesday, October 20, 2009 0 comments
Yea!  Mark will be speaking at the Florida Renewable Energy Expo this weekend (10/24-10/25).

I'll be speaking both days of the Expo with an hour timeslot (12-1pm).  I've actually known that I was on the agenda for about a month and have been busy working on my presentation.  The presentation is called "The State of Charge" and it covers the whole EV space, with an emphasis on Infrastructure...of course!  It also appears that I'll be giving the presentation to a few local governments that would like a private presentation to their staff.

To get a "local" perspective of what Central Florida is doing to prepare for EVs, I've been meeting and talking to many people in government, utilities, and business to understand how they're preparing for EVs next year.  The good part is that there is a good nucleus of planning activity going on in the Orlando area and we're working on becoming a RMI Project Get Ready Pioneer City...hopefully, we'll be the first metro in Florida to do so.  That said, I'm working with the "Get Ready Central Florida" committee to ensure that we cross the finish line first.  The RMI guys have created a nice recipe to help a metro "Get Ready" and the other pioneer cities offer some great support and insight (thanks Jeff Barghout in Raleigh!).

Next week, I'll post my presentation on my site and and finish up some blog articles that I've been working on.

ECOtality's eTec Finalizes Contract for $100 Million DOE Grant and Launches Project Website

Thursday, October 1, 2009 0 comments
It's official!  The largest transportation electrification project in history has started.  This morning, eTec announced that they have officially signed the $99.8 million grant with DOE to start installing EV Infrastructure in 5 States.

This is truly a milestone in the US' commitment and adoption of Electric Vehicles.  While you could take away that the government gave a private company a big wad of cash to do their job, there's much more to it than that.  Due to the grant's objectives, the transparency guidelines for taking the money, and observing consumer behaviors, we stand to learn a LOT from this massive project.  Things like...
  • Monetizing electric vehicle charging - what works and what doesn't
  • The best places to install charging stations...especially fast chargers
  • How does having a charger near a retail or restaurant affect consumer behavior?
  • How and when people charge their vehicles.  This gives us insight into how range anxiety affects EV owners
  • What will be the actual dynamic between municipalities, utilities, business, and consumers on their adoption in the various cities?
Related (and excellent) interviews with eTec's CEO Don Karner about the grant...
See below for the press release from eTec...

40 PHEV/EVs Available By End of 2010!

Thursday, September 24, 2009 1 comments
Updated: 11/10/09

I was checking out the nice list of PHEV/EV's that Plug-in Partners is tracking on their Plug-in Vehicle Tracker page and I wanted to see the list in Chronological order.  So after a bit of sorting, I created the list below... 
  • 2009: 19 vehicles 
  • 2010: 21 vehicles
  • 2011: 9 vehicles
  • 2012: 7 vehicles
  • Future: 14 vehicles
The best part about this list is that there is a nice cross section of vehicles (economy, bus, truck, motorcycle, luxury, performance) coming our way within the next 1.5 years, so there's going be a vehicle available for nearly everyone.  And this doesn't include the new trucks from Freightliner/Enova or my favorite EV of them all, Focus Design's Self Balancing Unicycle which is available today :-).

Obviously, as time runs out in the future, manufacturers have less info on what models they'll have available, so that's a good reason why the list is lighter past 2011.  The big question will be if they deliver when they say they will...which is a big IF when you're launching products with new technology.


  1. BMW MINI E EV - (Beta Testing)
  2. BYD Auto F3DM PHEV
  3. Commuter Cars Tango T600 EV
  4. Phoenix Motorcars Phoenix SUV EV
  5. Subaru Stella EV EV
  6. Tata Motors Indica EV
  7. Tesla Motors Roadster EV
  8. Toyota Prius Plug-in PHEV
  9. Motorcycle: Brammo Enertia 2 wheel EV
  10. Motorcycle: Electric Motorsport Electric GPR-S 2 wheel EV
  11. Motorcycle: Vectrix VX-1 2 wheel EV
  12. Motorcycle: Zero Motorcycles Zero X 2 wheel EV
  13. Truck: Balqon Natilus E20 / E30 EV
  14. Truck: Electrorides ZeroTruck EV
  15. Truck: Modec Box Van EV
  16. Truck: Smith Electric Vehicles Edison EV
  17. Truck: Smith Electric Vehicles Newton EV
  18. Bus: IC Bus CE 10AHJ School Bus PHEV
  19. Bus: Proterra EcoRide BE35 EV 


  1. Chrysler Dodge Circuit EV  (Killed by Fiat)
  2. Coda Automotive CODA Sedan EV
  3. Daimler Mercedes Benz Blue Zero PHEV
  4. Detroit Electric e63 EV
  5. Fisker Karma PHEV
  6. General Motors Chevrolet Volt PHEV
  7. Heuliez WILL EV
  8. Lightning Car Company GT EV
  9. Lumeneo SMERA EV
  10. Mindset AG Mindset PHEV
  11. Mitsubishi iMiEV EV
  12. Nissan LEAF EV
  13. Pininfarina-Bolloré BLUECAR aka B0 EV
  15. Th!nk City EV
  16. Th!nk O EV
  17. Toyota FT-EV
  18. Volkswagen Twin Drive PHEV
  19. ZENN CityZENN EV
  20. Motorcycle: Aptera Motors Aptera 2e 3 wheel EV
  21. Truck: Boulder Electric Vehicles Truck & WUV EV
  22. Truck: Ford Transit Connect EV (Smith Electric Vehicle)


  1. Audi A1 Sportback PHEV
  2. BYD Auto e6 EV
  3. Ford Focus EV
  4. General Motors Opel Ampera PHEV
  5. Loremo Loremo EV
  6. Renault FluenceEV EV
  8. Tesla Motors Model S EV
  9. Truck: Ford Tourneo Connect EV


  1. Daimler Smart ED (Electric Drive) EV
  2. Ford Escape PHEV
  3. Hyundai Blue-Will PHEV
  4. Hyundai i10 Electric EV
  5. Renault Z.E. (Zero Emission) EV
  6. Volvo V70 PHEV
  7. Truck: Bright Automotive Idea PHEV 


  1. Audi e-tron EV
  2. BMW Vision PHEV
  3. Chrysler Town and Country PHEV  (Killed by Fiat)
  4. Chrysler Jeep Patriot PHEV  (Killed by Fiat)
  5. Chrysler Jeep Wrangler Unlimited PHEV  (Killed by Fiat)
  6. Chrysler 200C PHEV  (Killed by Fiat)
  7. Citroën REVOLTE PHEV
  8. Daimler Mercedes Benz SLS eDrive EV
  9. General Motors Cadillac Converj PHEV
  10. NICE Micro-Vett e500 (Fiat) EV
  11. SEAT León TwinDrive PHEV
  12. Subaru R1e EV
  13. Volkswagen E-Up! EV
  14. Truck: EVI eviLightTruck EV

2 Gamechangers That Could Seriously Affect EV Infrastructure

Tuesday, September 22, 2009 0 comments
Here are 2 technologies on the horizon that could seriously affect how we’ll charge our vehicles in the near future.

1. Battery Swapping/Exchange

What is it?
Instead of taking the time to charge your vehicle’s battery, just swap it out with a fully charged one.  This would be similar to swapping out your grill's propane tank using rentable, prefilled tanks from tank exchange companies like www.bluerhino.com, but for an EV, it would be more like www.BetterPlace.com’s vision as seen in the video below. 

Gamechanging Advantages:
  • 3 Minute “Charges”…or how ever long it takes to swap the battery.  This is perfect for delivery fleets and other uses where vehicles are not in one place too long.
  • Easier upgrades to new battery technology.  Anyone that has owned a laptop knows how fast their new 6 hour battery becomes a 3 hour battery.  Battery swap services could keep you in the latest technology by turning their inventory.
  • Buy the car, rent/lease the battery…which could lower the initial cost of EVs.  This would work best for fleets, but it gets messy for consumers.

  • Design challenges.  To get economies of scale, several vehicle manufacturers would have to standardize on the same basic battery location, packaging, and technology.
  • Commoditizes Battery Technology Competitive Advantage.  Since battery technology is rapidly evolving and overcoming range anxiety is paramount, EV companies are likely to use battery technology as a competitive advantage. 
  • Inventory.  What if they are out of the battery that goes into your vehicle?  This is why economies of scale and standardization are so important to this model. 

2. UltraCapacitor

What is it?
Like batteries, capacitors store energy...however, capacitors typically only store energy on a very short term basis (second or less).  Because of their construction, capacitors have significant advantages and disadvantages from a battery (see below), but scientist and materials engineers are making good headway on delivering a capacitor that is better than a traditional battery.

The idea of using ultracapacitors for EVs is not new, but the idea is still valid and could at the very least help batteries handle large peak electrical conditions (charging and speed inc/decrease).  This NASA brief from 2000 outlined the benefits and possibilities of using them: UltraCapacitors Store Energy in a Hybrid Electric Vehicle  

The biggest development over the past two years has been within the walls of the mysterious EEStor company in Texas, which is working with Zenn Cars to power their vehicles using UltraCapacitors.  EEStor is operating in “stealth mode” and doesn’t have a website, but it does have a Wikipedia entry - make sure you check out the specs of their UltraCapacitor compared to batteries.  Another key UltraCapacitor manufacturer is Maxwell Technologies

Gamechanging Advantages:
  • They can soak up HUGE amounts of power VERY QUICKLY (3-6 min for full charge)...and it can give it back just as fast...much faster than a battery (3+ hours for full charge).  Ultra-Capacitors could replace or augment batteries...and to help soak up large charging currents from fast chargers (Level 3) or help make regenerative braking even better.  There are a few studies on this out in cyberspace (Google Search)
  • They work in the Cold, where batteries can be sluggish
  • Provide consistent performance over time
  • They are potentially MUCH cheaper to build than batteries, lighter, need no maintenance, and are not nearly as harmful to the environment when they are discarded.
  • Their big challenge for UltraCapacitors to create one that doesn’t leak (discharge to air) over time.  If EEstor delivers on its promises, they will create a UltraCapacitor that leaks less than a Lithium Ion battery!
  • Large Charging Currents.  While it’s an advantage that UltraCapacitors can suck up large amounts of energy, it could challenge charging infrastructure…enabling...and thus requiring Level 3 charging stations which are very expensive to purchase and “feed”.  This would be less of a problem for fleets that could benefit by fast charging vehicles and afford their cost.
  • Oh yeah, they’re not real…yet...

Is your City getting ready to support PHEV/EVs? Here are some questions to ask...

Is your City getting ready to support PHEV/EVs?  

If not, you've got less than one year before several auto manufacturers aggressively start selling PHEV/EVs in the US.  Although it might seem simple to hang a EV charger on the wall, there's far more to it than that.  How much different depends on how forward-thinking your city officials are, as cities that have a sustainable vision will create and execute a plan that ensures that EVs will be adopted quickly and smoothly.

If you haven't visited the Rocky Mountain Institute's (RMI) "Project Get Ready" website yet, you should check it out ASAP. 
This smart group of people have amassed a nice tool set, including plans, calculators, and best practices that will get you started off on the right foot.  To help get you started, here's a link to their getting started guide.  RMI has also partnered with several cities which are committed to the successful rollout of EVs...and you can learn from their experience by talking to their project managers.

Here are a few questions you can ask utilities and governments to get the inside scoop on how they are preparing for supporting PHEV/EVs in 2010...

Questions for Utilities
  • How is your utility planning to support PHEVs/EVs in this area?
  • How does your utility see the grid impact of PHEVs/EVs in the area over the next 5 years?  Will our grid be at risk by supporting PHEVs/EVs?  Do you see a peak capacity problem?
  • How important is it for your utility to control/limit service (Demand Side Management - DSM) to PHEV/EV charging stations in an area to limit risk to grid?
  • What number of Level 2 charging stations does your Electrical Utility consider it to be a large enough installation that you would like DSM implemented?
  • Does your utility plan to change pricing or rate structure based on assumed PHEV/EV adoption?
  • When does your utility plan to implement Vehicle to Grid (V2G) in the area?
  • Does your utility plan to introduce Solar Powered charging stations in the future?
  • Does your utility impose any steps on permitting/installation for a residential Level 1 or Level 2 charging system (separate meter, verifications, etc.)?  What about a commercial installation?
  • Does your utility have a person or website that prospective EV owners (business or residence) can go to get more information about
  • Does your utility plan to incent businesses of certain sizes to utilize charging stations with DSM?
  • Given that electric utilities have the most to gain by a transition to PHEVs/EVs, how does your utility plan to manage the successful adoption of them? 
  • Given that utilities have the most to lose by a poor transition to PHEVs/EVs by way of risk to grid, how does your utility plan to manage that risk?  (with other stakeholders)
  • How will the adoption of PHEVs/EVs affect your disaster planning/response (evacuation)?
Questions for Governments
  • How do see the adoption of PHEVs/EVs in your area (commercial and residential)?
  • How are you planning to support PHEVs/EVs in this area?
  • Are you planning to deploy a fleet of PHEV/EVs?  When?  What type? Etc.
  • Do you plan to adopt/encourage/mandate PHEV/EV busses, trucks, taxis?
  • Do you have a project manager assigned to help coordinate EV Infrastructure deployment between stakeholders (utilities, gov’t, business, residents)?
  • Do you plan to encourage/mandate installations of EV charging infrastructure in new construction?
  • Are you planning to deploy public EV chargers?  How many, Where, When, What Type, How paid…
  • Are you applying for any grants (e.g. ARRA) for help with EV Infrastructure?  Are you following RMI’s Project Get Ready guidelines?
  • Does your area have any goals for PHEV/EV adoption to help with GHG/Pollutant/Carbon  emission reduction?
  • Do you plan to encourage businesses (fleets) or residents to adopt PHEV/EVs?
  • Do you have a defined permitting process for charging stations yet?   If so, what’s the charge for the permit and how long should it take?   FYI: Permits cross several lines of government to install, including Planning, Police (enforcement of EV parking spaces), and Public Works
  • How will the adoption of PHEVs/EVs affect your disaster planning/response (evacuation)?

Gas Prices: The Key Incentive to Go Electric

Every time I talk to people about PHEV/EVs, it doesn’t take long for the primary motivator to surface…Gas Prices…as the higher they go, the more people will consider purchasing a PHEV/EV. 

This was best exemplified over the last few years when the US saw large spikes in fuel prices: When gas prices jumped, so did the line of people at the Toyota dealership waiting to buy their Prius. 

Unfortunately, American’s are very short term focused (months or less).  We like our fast food (1500 cal in 5 minutes), pharmaceuticals (why live healthy when you can take a pill?), and quarterly earnings reports (buy/hold?  yeah/right!).  So it makes since that we remember the pain of rising gas prices only for the duration of the peaks in price spikes.

To see if there was a strong correlation, I graphed gas prices against hybrid vehicle sales using data from the Department of Energy.  Here’s what I found…
  • Once gas prices broke the $2.00 AND $3.00/gallon barrier in 2005, Hybrid sales jumped 150%...everyone knew what a hybrid was that year.
  • On average, gas prices have risen 195% from 2002 to 2008 (before the recession took effect). 
  • Since the fall of gas prices in 2008, the price of regular gas has risen sharply and is on track to match its pre-recession price levels ($3.50) within a year.

Given the current GDP growth rates of China (8% growth in 2009) and India (6.7% growth in 2009)…and their increases in per capita income, yearly increases in an unreplenishable resource (fossil fuel) are here to stay.

To me, this graph makes it clear that gas prices will seriously help the transition to using PHEV/EVs in the near future…even for short term thinking Americans.  In fact, it looks like there’s a perfect storm brewing for a successful transition to electric vehicles…
  • Increasing gas prices
  • Mature EV technology
  • Lots of government incentives…worldwide
  • GHG awareness and action
  • “Good enough” battery technology
  • Cool cars
  • and a Charging Infrastructure starting to be implemented
…all we need to do now is not screw up the implementation!

Does Ford's announcement of a EV-To-Grid System help it gain ground on EV Rivals?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009 0 comments
On August 18th, Ford Unveiled 'Intelligent' System for Plug-in Hybrids to Communicate with the Electric Grid.   This was major announcement for Ford as the company prepares to significantly enter the PHEV/EV market in the next two years.  The big question is, does this announcement help Ford gain ground on EV Rivals?

The short answer: Yes, it helps somewhat.  Ford, like every large Electric Vehicle company, needs to work with DOE's Clean Cities and Smart Grid to ensure there is somewhere their customers can charge their new cars, pay for charges, and not take down the grid doing it. 

Smart Charging via a Smart Grid has huge features, especially in terms of preserving/controlling our electrical system when EV's are everywhere.  It's in our nation's best interest that don't do something stupid like introduce a new transportation technology that takes down the county's electrical grid.

...after all: no watts, no GDP. 

That's why the DOE is promoting Smart Grid and Clean Cities to herd suppliers and governments into a common vision for supporting renewable energy and EVs.  This includes auto makers like Ford to make sure their cars can talk to electrical grid with a common socket and communications language.  It also includes planning for the charging infrastructure which will eventually replace the gas pump in our lifetimes.  The impact of adopting EVs will be a positive change for the climate, auto industry, and consumer.

All this said, Ford is smartly doing what other manufacturers are doing...they have to make it easy for us to fill up and pay for the "gas"...all without knocking out the power grid.  After all, we get real cranky when a power outage takes out the A/C for 2 hours.

How will Wireless Charging technology fit in with Electric Vehicles?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009 0 comments
The idea of wirelessly transmitting power has been around for over a century, thanks to Nikola Tesla.  Back in 1893, Tesla first demonstrated to the world the ability to wirelessly illuminate phosphorescent lamps at the Chicago World’s Fair.  Since then, the technology has been slowly maturing in research facilities. 

One notable large scale demonstration of the technology was made in NASA’s JPL/Goldstone facility.  Back in 1975, NASA demonstrated that it could effectively transfer 34KW of power across 1.5 KM at 82% efficiency…very cool stuff, especially back then. You can see the test in the video here:

The focus of using wireless power transfer over the last 10 years has been charging small devices like your cell phone or wireless headset directly on a charging pad (e.g. www.wipower.com).  However, a company in Massachusetts called www.WiTricity.com is gunning for applications that are separated by a few feet…and one of their applications is charging electric vehicles!  The video shows WiTricity’s CEO, Eric Giler, at a TED Conference showing off his cool technology.

Even Nissan, who has announced a bold strategy to concentrate on EVs has announced that they are actively working on a Wireless Charging technology.  Read about it here at the Guardian.

Considering what I know about the technology today, I see the following opportunities and challenges for charging wirelessly…

  • Convenience, just drive up and charge!  Whether it’s in your garage, at a traffic light, or on one of our city roads that becomes a parking lot during drive time commute, you wouldn’t have to do anything to get a charge.  Very cool!  Don’t be surprised to see this convenience depicted in a SciFi movie soon.
  • Could be integrated with Smart Grid.  Like other network level chargers, this technology could be integrated into the Smart Grid to provide utility control and accounting of how much charge and which vehicle got the juice…all automatically.
  • For charging vehicles at Apartment Buildings or Public Areas, wireless charging has these additional benefits...
    - No cords to wear out (it's built into the street, parking place, etc)
    - No cords to vandalize
    - Park and charge in bad weather (don't have to take the time to plug/unplug if it's raining/snowing/etc.)
    - Ensures the charge power is used for a specific device (vehicle with receiving antenna)

  • Efficiency: To get high efficiency out of wireless charging, the receiving device either needs to be very close to the transmitter and/or the transmitter must be able to focus the energy directly on the receiving device.  WiTricity is claiming 50%+ efficiency now for close distance charging and NASA saw 82% efficiency from the JPL experiment, so it’s possible that this might not be a limiting issue.
  • Cost: While the technology might be cheap to produce, how much to install this technology in roads, garages, and vehicles?  This includes routing power cables to transmitters.
  • Standards: Technology like this must be standardized to be widely adopted…especially considering the potential installation costs.  
  • Power Scale/Charge Time: Most of the companies today have demonstrated wireless power transfer of just a few watts.  Will the technology be able scale up to pump 7,000 W (Level 2) into your vehicle so it can charge quickly?
  • Value: Assuming Corded Power is 100% efficient, will the cost of the technology, installation, and the inefficiencies to wirelessly transmit power be worth the inconvenience of plugging in your vehicle?  For instance, if the technology is only 50% efficient, then you’d be paying double to power your vehicle wirelessly…is it worth it?
You can find a few companies making wireless charging systems for EVs on my EVSE Vendor Page.

    DOE awards $300 Million in Clean Cities Grants, which includes EV Infrastructure

    Sunday, August 30, 2009 0 comments
    On August 26th, 2009, U.S. Department of Energy announced the selection of 25 projects under the Clean Cities program (http://www1.eere.energy.gov/cleancities) which will be funded with nearly $300 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

    While most of the monies go to projects related to moving trucks, buses and other big vehicles to CNG or LP, there are monies dedicated to EV Infrastructure in about half of the projects.  You can read about the announcement here: http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/news/progress_alerts.cfm/pa_id=232

    Here are some of the projects with investment into EV charging infrastructure...
    • $13 Million for the North Central Texas Council of Governments' North Central Texas Alternative Fuel and Advanced Technology.  In addition to monies for other things, this project 4 charging stations, 34 electric vehicles, and 251 hybrid electric vehicles.
    • $6 Million for the Maryland Energy Administration’s Maryland Hybrid Truck Goods Movement Initiative.  This project will implement the largest collaborative hybrid truck project in the nation, and provide financial and technical assistance to many large fleets including: ARAMARK, Efficiency Enterprises, Nestle Water Company, Sysco, and UPS to purchase 150 hybrid electric vehicles. 
    • $13 Million for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority Statewide Alternative Fuel Vehicle Program for CNG, LPG, EV, and HEV Vehicles and Fueling Stations Initiative.  Details at their site: http://www.nyserda.org/Funding/default.asp
    • $11 Million for the Clean Fuels Ohio’s Ohio Advanced Transportation Partnership (OATP).  This program includes nearly $3 Million for EV fleet vehicles and charging infrastructure.   Details at their site: http://www.cleanfuelsohio.org/cms
    • $15 Million for the City of Chicago, Department of Environment’s Chicago Area Alternative Fuels Deployment Project.  This project will deploy 554 alternative fuel and hybrid electric vehicles and install 153 alternative fueling and electric vehicle charging stations throughout the Chicago region.  $13 Million for the Kentucky Clean Fuels Coalition’s Hybrid Electric School Buses Provide New Horsepower for Kentucky.  This project will replace 190 older diesel school buses with hybrid electric school buses to be used in school districts throughout Kentucky. 

    EV Charging Station "Levels"

    Tuesday, August 25, 2009 5 comments
    Updated 4/5/12

    To the National Electrical Code, charging stations for electric vehicles fall into three distinct Level (or types).  When the rubber hits the road, these Levels really describe how much power you can supply to the vehicle you are charging...the more power you can deliver, the faster the charge...and vice versa.

    Here are the three Charging Levels as specified by the NEC...

    Input Voltage (VAC)
    Input Current
    Input Power
    Standard Outlet
    Level 1
    NEMA 5-15R (Standard 110v outlet for US)
    Level 2
    SAE J1772/3
    Level 3
    Direct Current charge in US/Japan. SAE standard coming in 2012.  CHAdeMO is the Japanese spec which is supported by several automakers.

    Level 1 (120V - AC)

    Level 1 uses the "usual" 120-volt, single-phase outlet for a three-prong grounded plug for the US.  Although it depends GREATLY on the vehicle you are charging, it typically takes between 8 to 14
    hours to fully charge a vehicle.  The biggest advantage to Level 1 is that you can find service almost anywhere in the US and since the charging current is about the same as a standard blow dryer, it won't put too much of a burden on your existing electrical service.  Obviously, the biggest disadvantage is the length of time it takes to recharge a vehicle.

    Level 2 (208-230V - AC)

    J1772 Connector for
    Level 1 & 2 Charging
    Level 2 increases the charge power by 5x and decreases the typical full charge time down to 4-8 hours, thus the main advantage for Level 2 Charging is speed.  The disadvantage of charging something faster is managing the heat that is produced in the battery through the charging process.  Although today's EV's are built to manage this heat (using liquid cooling/fans), heat typically shortens battery life.

    Level 2 charging will be the normal charging service that we will be using in the future.  The Society of Automotive Engineers has approved a new standard plug called SAE J1772 which will be the "gas hose" that new EV/PHEVs will use.

    Level 3 (Input: 3 phase 480VAC...Output: 300-400VDC)

    Level 3, or Fast Charging, requires very high levels of voltage and current, but the big advantage is speed.  Some vehicles can charge in as little as 15 minutes, but it all depends on the battery type and chemistry...as charging this fast makes a HUGE amount heat that has to be disposed of quickly.  Level 3 Charging is perfect for: fleets that need frequent recharges during the day; anyone traveling cross-country trips; and emergency charging in case of evacuation.

    J1772 Combo Connector for
    Level 1, 2, & 3
    Unlike Level 1 & 2 chargers which output AC to the vehicle, Level 3 chargers typically output DC using a different plug than the J1772.  The CHAdoMO plug specification is used in several Japanese cars including the Nissan Leaf.

    The SAE is set to decide on a J1772 Combo Connector (a.k.a. FrankenPlug) which combines the current J1772 and high power (90kW) DC charging in one plug.  This creates a US Standard for Level 3 and saves automakers from installing two connectors/filler doors on a car.  You'll only see this plug on future Level 3 chargers.  You can read about it here.

    Water Hose Comparison

    If you want an easy way of looking at the different Charging Levels, you could think of...
    • Level 1 - a 5/8 inch standard garden hose
    • Level 2 - a 3/4 inch garden hose - not much bigger, but lots more flow.
    • Level 3 - a 3 inch Fire Hose with a big red truck behind it!

    If you were King, where would you install Electric Vehicle Charging Stations?

    Even though there are many charging stations installed already (mostly on the West Coast), where SHOULD they be installed?  In other words, if you were starting from a blank slate and you were King, where would you put them?  While we’re thinking of this, let’s address these questions too…
    • What type of charger would be best?
    • Who would install/own them?
    • How would they offset their costs?
    See the legend at the bottom of this post for explanations of the terms.

    Homes with PHEV/EVs
    Obviously, every homeowner with a PHEV/EV will want to plug their car in at night...it's the smartest option in terms of cost and convenience.

    • Charger type: Level 1 or Level 2
    • Likely owner: Homeowner
    • Cost offset: Free charger from car company, Government Incentive
    Apartment buildings
    • Charger type: Level 1 or Level 2
    • Likely owner: Property Owner, Third Party
    • Cost offset: Fees, Pay Per Use, Advertising, Government Incentive
    Public Garages and Parking lots
    • Charger type: Level 1 or Level 2
    • Likely owner: Government, Third Party
    • Cost offset: Fees, Taxes, Pay Per Use, Advertising
    Companies with Fleets of EVs/PHEVs
    • Charger type: Level 2 or Level 3.  Battery Swap (Better Place).
    • Likely owner: Company Owner
    • Cost offset: Government Incentive, Carbon Credit 
    Rest Areas and Service Plazas
    • Charger type: Level 3 or Level 2.  Battery Swap (Better Place).
    • Likely owner: Government, Third Party
    • Cost offset: Pay Per Use, Fees, Taxes, Advertising
    Malls, Stores, and Restaurants who want to attract "green minded" shoppers

    • Charger type: Level 1 or Level 2 (Level 3 if near Major Highways)
    • Likely owner: Property Owner, Third Party
    • Cost offset: Pay Per Use, Advertising, Fees
    Workplaces (for Employees)
    • Charger type: Level 1 or Level 2
    • Likely owner: Property Owner, Third Party
    • Cost offset: Company Benefit, Pay Per Use, Fees

    Charger Types - from NEC Handbook
    • Level 1 - 110V 12A service
    • Level 2 - 208/220V 32A service
    • Level 3 - 480V 400A service

    Cost Offset Types (Examples)
    • Company Benefit: Companies provide charging stations for "free" to their employees
    • Pay Per Use: Credit Card, Smart Card, or coin-based charging stations
    • Fee Based: Subscription or Monthly fee to have access to a charging station
    • Advertising: Charging stations and/or access cards/keys have advertising on them
    • Government Incentive: Tax credit, grant, or loan guarantee
    • Carbon Credit: Company earns carbon credit by reducing GHG emissions by utilizing EVs
    • Taxes: Installation and use of charging stations are offset by tax revenue
    What other types of scenarios can you think of?

    DOE outlines funding opportunites, including funds for EV Infrastructure

    Friday, August 21, 2009 1 comments

    On August 20th, I attended an enlightening presentation where I learned a lot and met some interesting people. The presentation was arraigned by Congressperson Susan Kosmas (Florida, 24th District, Democrat) as a part of her “Follow the Green Money” campaign to inform citizens about how they might be able to benefit by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and other stimulus funding.

    The presentation was titled: “DOE funding for venture capital, energy start-ups and incubator companies” and was presented by Brian Quirke of the Department of Energy (DOE). Brian was a good speaker…and funny enough, he was kinda quirky in this reaction with the crowd which made the 3 hour session mildly entertaining too. It was time well spent to get the perspective of a DOE insider – and how they are committed to making sure our tax dollars are spent carefully…and Brian was believable since he was more of a geek and not a PR guy.

    Brian walked us through a Powerpoint Presentation that was very informative.

    Here are some tidbits from the presentation…
    • The DOE’s cut of the ARRA funds was $32.7B. Of that, $6.7B is slotted for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency and $4.5B is slotted for Smart Grid. That’s $11.2B available for projects that are directly or indirectly affected by a charging infrastructure for EVs!
    • The money will largely be given away in grants, but there is a small amount that will be loan guarantees.
    • Start taking action NOW, the application process is long, especially if you are forming a new company to take advantage of a grant.
    • Big focus on transparency: if you get money, you must document how you spent it on recovery.gov (this is a good thing)
    • As of 8/20, about half of the existing grants were closed, but Brian said that there will be a "tsunami" of new grants coming online in about 6 weeks or less.
    • All grant applications should VERY obviously state over and over how you help the goals of ARRA: Addressing Global Warming, Creating Green Jobs, Helping the Economy Recover, Promoting partnerships, and finally, be able to Get r done fast (Shovel Ready)…as they all of the money spent within 1.5 years.
    Here's are some things to get you started on your hunt for DOE's funding opportunities for Grant and Loan Guarantees...
    If you would like to invite Brian Quirke to your town, you can contact him at 630-252-2423.

    Why should you care about all this?

    One good reason is $99 Million dollars. That’s how much the Electric Transportation Engineering Corporation (eTec) got in a DOE Grant to put in an initial 12,800 charging stations in Washington State, Oregon, California, Arizona and Tennessee. Here’s a link to an eTec FAQ on the Grant: http://www.etecevs.com/pdf/080509_FAQ_DOE_Ecotality_eTec.pdf

    The eTec Grant is huge news, as it signals a large commitment between government and business to embrace the evolution to EVs now…even in this sucky economy.

    For a great overview of eTec's History and how they plan to execute on this grant, watch this interview from Horizon...

    Wanna go deeper down the rabbit hole into the details of a DOE Grant? Here's John Kelly dissecting a Smart Grid grant application: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/what-the-doe-wants-in-smart-grid-grant-applications/

    If you are not checking www.energy.gov/recovery to see if your organization could benefit, what are you waiting for?

    Viva la (electric car) Revolution!

    Wednesday, August 19, 2009 0 comments
    There's a quiet revolution going right now that WILL soon change nearly everyone's life: the shift to using electric vehicles. Nearly every auto manufacturer has announced that they will be selling a Plug-in Hybrid or Electric Vehicle by 2012, so you know it's only a matter of time before we have to choose whether we want to use them...or support charging them.

    You might think that creating a charging infrastructure is simple, since we have electircal power available to us almost everywhere. While installing charging stations is pretty straightforward, figuring out how to make money selling "juice" and not breaking the electrical grid are the harder parts of the puzzle to solve.

    The charging infrastructure for electric vehicles is an integral part of Smart Grid, the US Department of Energy's program for modernizing the electrical grid so that we can efficiently manage electricity nationwide including the things that use it. For example, in a few years, you'll be able to tell your electric car to only charge itself when the electric company is on the cheapest electricity rates….or to allow your car to sell back stored electricity to the grid at expensive rates.

    While there are some excellent resources on the web today that cover all aspects of electric vehicles, this blog will focus on the more boring...but arguably more important part: the charging infrastructure. After all, if we don't get the infrastructure right (the eggs), customers won't buy electric vehicles (the chickens)!