What happens when you run out of "fuel" on the highway?
After I explain that my Nissan Leaf will tell me when I'm low on fuel (multiple times) and guide me to the nearest charging station, people are impressed with the final answer: In the very near future, I can call AAA and they will drive a truck out to give me a 10 minute charge that gives me about 10 miles of range. There are 6 currently deployed...and one is in Tampa, just 80 miles away from me.
The idea of AAA offering this type of roadside assistance is brilliant and fits in perfectly with their existing roadside services. AAA is actually trying three different types of systems to charge electric vehicles:
- Lithium ion battery pack.
- Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) driven generator.
- Generator powered by truck's engine.
Green Charge Networks (GCN)Creating a mobile EV Charging solution was a logical next step for GCN, as they had been making mobile energy storage solutions for utilities that enable EV charging at any location, such as sporting or music events.
GCN was founded in 2007 by Ron Prosser, who had a long and very successful career with Boeing and Rockwell (see GCN's website). The bi-coastal company (CA-NY) is now run by Ryan Prosser, Ron's son.
The company was one of the first to use Lithium Batteries for Energy Storage...with the intent of charging the system off-peak (when there is a surplus of cheaper energy) and discharging the batteries when there is quick demand for electricity (a demand spike), such as when a big motor, A/C, or refrigeration systems starts up. The idea is to use stored energy to flatten out these demand spikes so that they don't affect the electric utility company's infrastructure.
What's wrong with demand spikes?
This demand charge is to offset the infrastructure needed to get the maximum power to your building. This means if a business normally uses 70 kW...but uses 200 kW for 5 minutes when A/C systems are turned on in the morning, the business pays a demand charge on the 200 kW. Demand charges vary, but in Florida they are $5/kW...so in this instance an extra 200kW x $5 = $1,000 would be added to your bill. If your building didn't have this demand spike...you could save $650 a month...and that's the business case for GCN's GreenStation product.
GreenStation - A Utility-Focused Product
They also have a mobile version of the Greenstation with a 68kW battery pack to provide energy management to buildings or charging electric cars at any location, such as sporting or music events....the mobile version could give 15 Leafs a 20 mile charge.
The GreenStation was developed with ConEdison of New York, which is also GCN's first customer. GreenStations have also been deployed at 7-Eleven, and AVIS Rent a Car at La Guardia Airport to fast charge their fleet of Nissan Leafs.
Morphing the product for mobile charging on a AAA Service Truck
At this point, AAA has two of GCN's pilot trucks on the road with several more about to be deployed. The company is hiring and has doubled revenue last year. GCN is charging ahead...