Eeny Miny Moe: Where Should the EV Charging Stations Go?
I don't envy the folks charged with determining where the public charging infrastructure should be installed to support the rollout of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs). The lucky owners of the first Volts and Leafs that are delivered during the next few weeks and months will primarily rely on home charging, but that will be complemented by public locations.
So far in 2010 we've seen many announcements about relationships between the charging equipment (EVSE) vendors and retailers, such as Best Buy and Cracker Barrel restaurants installing charging equipment from Ecotality, NRG Energy selecting AeroVironment as a partner for its charging network in Houston, Sheraton Hotels in Toronto and Montreal getting chargers from Coulomb, and Eaton's charging equipment being chosen for deployment in South Carolina, to name a few.
But are these type of retail locations really the ideal to enable the early PEV adopters to plug in and maximize their electric driving range? Figuring out where and how many charging stations are sufficient is no easy task. Will PEVs truly be taken for longer rides on major thoroughfares, such as the plans for a charging "corridor" along I-5 in Oregon, or are urban gas stations with chargers that enable Leafs to be charged in mere minutes more likely to get action?
The DOE-sponsored EV Project has assigned the task of figuring out how on how to invest in taxpayer —supported public charging infrastructure to Ecotality, which is also providing the equipment. They are producing reports about expected EV and EVSE penetration for each of the regions, and are incorporating data from traffic patterns, work commuting patterns, historical hybrid-electric data ownership, concentration of business, and other factors. For example, in Oregon, Ecotality estimates that for 2011, there will be two charging stations installed for each PEV sold, but that ratio will drop to 1.3:1 by 2020.