A member of US-CAP, Duke Energy plans to build its own car-charging infrastructure in South Carolina as the Nissan Leaf (all battery-electric) and Chevy Volt (plug-in plus extended range) and other plug-in electric vehicles start to become available in the US later this year.
According to Mike Rowland, Duke Energy’s director of advanced customer technology, speaking to the Electric Drive Transportation Association, Charlotte and Raleigh will be among the dozen or so U.S. cities with the most demand for EVs.
A study last year recommended that with such a massive switch in fuel and infrastructure, that the US needed to plan an organized roll-out with a series of regional hubs with a certain density of public fast-charging stations, and once these are established, to then fill out the infrastructure to include wider regions of the nation.
Unlike the first regional hubs such as California, the Carolinas do not already get a high percentage of electricity from low carbon sources, including hydro and nuclear power.
Electric vehicles help the environment most if they are rolled out in areas where they will use renewable energy, but even on a typical (45% coal-powered) grid, create less greenhouse gas than gasoline vehicles.
North Carolina has a Renewable Energy Standard and must begin to add increasing amounts of renewable energy to the grid (North Carolina, 10 – 16% by 2021. South Carolina has no RES but an assortment of incentives and building codes encouraging a greener grid.
Duke itself has pioneered distributed solar installations as part of meeting renewable requirements.
Several companies are competing to provide public fast-charging infrastructure in the US. While most charging will be done relatively slowly, overnight at home, a speedy fill-up will also be needed at public charging stations, and a network is planned in several key regions to facilitate the adoption of the first electric vehicles in the US.
As part of a $37 million program with the Department of Energy, San Jose-based Coulomb Technologies will roll out 4,600 stations in nine US regions. PG&E just installed the first Fast Charge station in the nation, midway between Sacramento and the Bay Area, in Vacaville.
Nissan will work with California’s Aerovironment to develop South Carolina’s network of EV-charging stations, among more than 260 fast charge stations in other key “first adopter regions” around the US. With the announcement by the DOE of a limited number of regional hubs to receive infrastructure support, there has been great competition to be among the chosen first adopter regions.
South Carolina was among those that succeeded in making the case for being among the first early hubs, with help from the state’s major utilities like Duke, the advocacy of non-profit Plug In Carolina and the presence in the state of a substantial automotive parts and components industry.
Susan Kraemer writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today, PV-Insider , SmartGridUpdate and GreenProphet and has been published at Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design she brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention: solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times. Follow Susan @dotcommodity on twitter.