Google, Inc. is about to take the guesswork out of finding an electric vehicle charging station. The Internet giant has partnered up with the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory and other stakeholders to use Google Maps as the primary platform for coordinating a database that provides up-to-date information on the whereabouts of EV charging stations nationwide. The project is being conducted through DOE’s Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center, which already features an online alternative fuels location finder that includes EV charging stations.
$5 Million in New Funds to Kickstart EV Charging Stations
The new partnership is coordinated with a $5 million funding program from DOE, which will pair up local governments with private companies to speed up the development of an EV charging station infrastructure. On the government side, that involves updating and streamlining permitting procedures for charging stations, as well as developing a framework of incentives to encourage the use of EV’s by consumers, businesses, and organizations. On the business side, that means the arrival of new opportunities for companies that design and construct charging stations to expand more rapidly and create new green jobs.
Electric Vehicle Explosion
EV’s are already starting to make inroads into fleet vehicles, including government fleets, so the new initiative isn’t starting from scratch. It also has a head start as part of the Clean Cities Initiative, a DOE program that has been going on since 1993 to reduce auto emissions. The $5 million will be doled out on a competitive basis, so it will be interesting to see how that affects the dynamic between state and local governments, given that at least some of the probable applicants are located in states where governors have already turned down funding for federal transportation projects (namely, high speed rail).
Google and Clean Energy
Aside from the EV charging station project, Google is also having a hand in promoting solar energy. Earlier this year, researchers at the University of California – San Diego teamed up with Google Earth to fine-tune a solar power map that enables California home owners and solar companies to calculate the most cost-effective placement of rooftop solar panels, coordinating peak use rates along with the sun’s location.
Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.