By Jim Taylor, Editor MACS ACTION Magazine
Will electric and rechargeable hybrids gain wide consumer acceptance before recharging them is made easier and more convenient? It’s an industry chicken-or-egg problem that has a wide reaching effect.
Industry thinkers say that Level 2 charging stations must become more widely available, and at reduced cost, to encourage buyer confidence. At present, certain OEMs require installation of such a unit in homes or overnight locations before allowing the customer to close the deal—and an installed 208-240 volt charging station can add as much as $2500 to the cost of an EV.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced a “funding opportunity” to provide up to $12 million for companies willing to develop newer and lower cost charging units. There are two significant requirements in the deal—the new unit has to be available for retail purchase within three years, and the price has to half that of a unit available today with the same functionality.
DOE’s Grid Integration Tech Team is made up of representatives from the domestic automotive industry, electric utilities, and other DOE programs and affiliates. They intend their work to reduce the cost of electric charging infrastructure and incorporate ways to manage EV loads on the electric grid.
Based on their survey and use data, DOE says that 80 – 90% of EV charging will occur in the evening or overnight, when owners plug in at home. Makes sense, but if enough cars are plugged in, the load could effect the power grid.
For that reason any new charging unit must be Smart Grid-capable, and include “bi-directional communications between [the charging station] and energy service providers; revenue-grade metering; advanced metering infrastructure, interface capability with in-home displays and home energy management systems; utility communication messaging; remote load controls, and remote disconnect.”
Some units can do a lot of that now, but a new unit will have to do all of it and at half the present price.
Requirements for new commercial grade, non-residential stations (public locations, workplaces, fleet charging, etc.) require the same cost reductions and the same Smart Grid communications, plus commercial-grade materials and construction, compliance with various specifications for outdoor use, and transaction management capabilities including authentication, remote billing, and interoperability with billing networks.
Billing networks? Can “Pay to Plug” be too far off?
When having your mobile A/C system professionally serviced, insist on proper repair procedures and quality replacement parts. Insist on recovery and recycling so that refrigerant can be reused and not released into the atmosphere.
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The 32nd annual Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide Convention and Trade Show will take place January 18-20, 2012 at the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV.