Clean Tech Leadership Council Meeting – June 13, 2014
Written by Daniel S. Cohen, Contributor
U.S. Department of Energy appears unwilling to continue funding EV Infrastructure
Despite tens of millions of dollars already invested in the forms of grants and loans, the U.S. Department of Energy, moving forward, does not wish to fund EV charging stations in the future. Sarah Olexsak explicitly stated the DoE’s desire is to help foster partnerships between businesses. One of the Department’s most recent programs, Workplace Charging Challenge, clearly demonstrates this preference. The Challenge encourages businesses to install EV charging stations for their employees in exchange for free publicity on the DoE’s website. Advocacy groups such as Clean Cities Georgia are encouraging businesses to participate and are seeing success.
Atlanta is growing rapidly and Public-Private Partnership is Highly Evident
After California, the state of Georgia has the second largest number of EVs registered in the entire United States. Perhaps even more impressive, and certainly more important, is that Georgia is the fastest growing EV market in the country. With a growth rate over 600% from 2013, the majority of which is stemming from the 5 counties which comprise metro Atlanta. The meeting attendance sheet clearly indicates the multisector interest in EVs. Carmakers, EV charging station providers, utilities, large corporations, energy start-ups, patent lawyers, journalists, PR firms, not-for-profits; municipal, county, state, and federal government agencies; students, and real estate investors attended the meeting to learn more and to build relationships to help develop Atlanta’s EV scene.
Atlanta City government is devoted to supporting EVs though programs need to be ramped up
Representatives from the City of Atlanta, including the Waste Management Office and the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, spoke about the city’s commitment to promoting EVs. The city government’s enthusiasm for EVs seems genuine and eager to do more. But the city is just now starting to take more tangible steps such as installing the first EV charging station on municipal property last year and purchasing the first EV for law enforcement use this year. The educational web resources the city provides are high quality and discussions about promoting an EV car sharing system sound fruitful but the city needs to ramp up its policies.
Lv2 Dual and Multiport chargers and DC stations are the future of EV Infrastructure
Charge Point firmly believes that Lv1 chargers are passé and that dual station L2 chargers are the future. A Lv1, or 110 volt charger, only restore five miles of range per hour. An eight hour session, typically of home charging, would enable the average driver to commute to and from Atlanta. Such limited range restoration makes these chargers impractical for workplace charging. Lv2 chargers, on the other hand, are 240 volts. These chargers restore 20 miles of range per hour. Charging for just 2 hours is sufficient for the average commuter to return home and then some from work. Dual stations enable two cars to charge at once. With limited space and increasing demand, dual and multi-access chargers will be essential for expanding corporate EVSE infrastructure. Charge Point also recommends that users be charged for use in order to minimize unnecessary usage. According to their analysis of five million charging sessions from across the U.S., the average consumer uses a charging station for six hours if the station is free. That time drops to 2.5 hours when the session must be paid.
Nissan dominates Atlanta EV market
The Nissan LEAF is the number 1 selling EV in Atlanta. As the one and only sponsor of the Clean Tech Leadership Council, Nissan has a firm grip on the Atlanta EV and EVSE network. At this meeting alone, Nissan was able to share its EV strategy moving forward and to promote the LEAF to numerous levels of government, major corporations like Coca-Cola, and business owners and EV advocates who will spread the message. Nissan continues to signal a stepped up commitment to EV charging in and around metro Atlanta.
Charge Point dominates US EVSE market
With 17,500 charging stations nationwide and nearly 100 in Georgia, including the state’s only DC stations, Charge Point is the EVSE leader in Atlanta . In Atlanta, tax incentives from the state of Georgia, and favorable relations with the other major EV stakeholders in the city are also helping Charge Point to continue to expand. As far as Atlanta is concerned, Charge Point is viewed as the major player in EVSE infrastructure development which is why companies like Nissan, Georgia Power, and Coca-Cola and EV advocates such as Clean Cities Georgia appeared eager to work with ChargePoint.
Tesla’s release of patents received mixed reviews
Representatives from both Nissan and Charge Point were asked about Tesla’s recent decision to release control over its 160 EV related patents in the hopes of promoting new advances in the field. Nissan and Charge Point gave the decision a cool response. Mr. Willingham of Nissan said that the released information would not make much of a difference for Nissan or for the EV industry in general because Tesla did not own many patents and the patents they did own were specialized to Tesla. Nissan, Mr. Willingham told us, respected the decision but did not feel it will alter how they develop their vehicles. Various Charge Point executives gave a similar message. Charge Point’s technology, they said, was different than Tesla’s and they feared that Tesla’s design may present some unspecified safety issues. Both companies indicated that Tesla’s decision may, in part, be motivated by the company’s desire to have its technology standardized by the industry.