Lack of charging stations has been holding back growth of the electric vehicle market for years now, and it seems that it will continue to be one of the biggest obstacles EV adoption for years to come. The stalemate surrounding the EV charging infrastructure is mostly due to the fact that charging stations are pretty expensive to build, and their number will not increase before electric cars really go mainstream, unless some alternative charging solution is introduced, that is more cost-effective and whose implementation will not depend on the number of EVs on the road.
The Electric Vehicle Autonomous Renewable Charger (EV ARC) might just be one of those potential solutions that could help speed up EV adoption, while waiting for an expansion of the existing charging station network. The solar-powered charging system developed by Envision Solar, a company that designs and manufactures renewable energy charging systems, and it can make charging electric vehicles much more convenient.
It’s a portable charging station, powered by photovoltaic cells, and it does not have to be connected to the power grid, and does not require a foundation, thus eliminating installation costs associated with conventional charging stations. The 9-by-16-foot charger is comprised of a steel base, that weighs around 11,000 pounds, along with a solar panel that generate electricity and charge a 22-kWh lithium-ion battery. The solar panel can tilt up to 15 percent to track the sun, thanks to a couple of electric motors. It can easily fit in a regular parking spot, and can be transported by truck. Since the installation of these chargers does not involve construction or waiting for permits, it only takes a couple of minutes to get it up and running.
The EV ARC has numerous applications, but it’s most suitable for businesses and government agencies that want to support sustainable commuting, and make it easier for their employees who own electric cars to recharge them during working hours. Each of these portable chargers cost $40,000, and businesses that decide to buy one, can get a return on their investment by selling ad space on it, as it features a 45-inch digital screen that can display ads, but it is still too big of an investment for individual EV owners. However, the company says that car owners can be eligible for various incentives and tax breaks if they decide to buy one of these portable chargers, which could bring their price down by as much as 40 percent. In any case, the $40,000 price tag is way cheaper than conventional charging stations, that can cost up to $150,000 to build and install.
Another great thing about the EV ARC is that it does not put extra train on the power grid, which could be a very serious issue in the future, if the number of electric cars grows as expected. As Desmond Wheatley, the CEO of Envision Solar said, the ultimate goal that the company wants to achieve through the development of portable EV charging systems is to radically change the way electric cars are charged, and make it more similar to the way cell phones are charged – pretty much whenever and where ever you want, by bringing a charger along with you wherever you go, instead of having to go to a charging station.
Jordan Perch is a transport analyst and expert in consumer affairs for the automotive industry. He is an author on topics related to public transport, specifically the use of ride-sharing and car-sharing services, and their impact on mass transit. He is a regular contributor to SolarFeeds, the IHS GlobalSpec and DMV.com’s blog and a proud owner of a Tesla Model S.