Editor’s Note (ZS): The photos above and the videos below, which I took, have been added to this repost (Roy and I were there together!), and I would also note that the 90% cut in cost compared to a conventional EV charging station is partly due to the fact that the “intelligence” of the charging system goes with the charging cord, which must be purchased by the customer somehow, so there is still that significant cost being redistributed. Still, this looks like it provides significant infrastructure and operational efficiency, and it allows customers to charge on their own electricity plans, which can be 100% green. Also, I think this really provides a good solution to the perennial issue of finding a sustainable way to adequately fund EV charging stations — mostly through a charging cord purchased by the customer. For more info, here’s Roy’s excellent piece on ubitricity, originally published in the ECOreport, which I think is better than what I would have written:
A Berlin based start-up compares its smart cord to the introduction of wireless internet access. There was a time when hotels provided individual internet terminals for their guests. Now that is usually done wirelessly. Similarly, a smart cord allows EV owners to the supplier of their choice, streamlining the billing process. This is one of many ideas through which ubitricity hopes to cut up to 90% of the cost from EV charging.
They want to do away with costly charging stations. These typically cost thousands of dollars (or euros). ubitricity’s answer is to mount sockets on streetlights and other existing outlets. According to their website:
As-off today, some 1 to 2% of the approximately 10 million lights poles throughout Germany could immediately be refitted with charging spots (single phase, AC), as their grid connection and position allow for charging day or night. The approximately 300.000 light poles that are exchanged or renewed per year present the next opportunity for cost-effective rollout of charging infrastructure.
This would dramatically cut EV infrastructure costs.
Furthermore, as billing is immediate and transaction based, tariffs can take advantage of grid load.
ubitricity has a contract to set up 100 of its charging stations in Berlin. A joint press release with Berlin energy provider Grundgrün predicts ubitricity’s mobile metering system “will soon be charging Grundgrün energy at every street light.”
Another pilot project will result in 60 charging stations in the Lake Constance region.
“The billing service that ubitricity is offering fleet managers enables separate consumption records regardless of the charging location,” said Dr. Frank Pawlitschek, founder and COO of ubitricity, in the press release announcing his company’s contract with the Freiburg Archdiocese’s eEV fleet.
ubitricity’s smart cord works in any charging station, but the “smart” function is restricted to systems using their socket.
Though ubitricity’s technology is impressive, it is not the only company bringing forward ways to cut EV infrastructure costs. There are alternate technologies springing up on three continents. Some of their fiercest may come from the wireless sector. The only thing that seems certain is that the efficiency of EV infrastructures is improving, while costs come down.
ubitricity employs a team of around 30 people at the Berlin Campus of the European Energy Forum (EUREF). Knut Hechtfischer and Frank Pawlitschek founded the company in 2008 and Rupert Stützle joined them, as CTO, two years ago.
It is worthy of note that ubitricity has been nominated as “Conveyance of the Year” at this year’s the Energy Awards in Berlin. The outcome will be announced on October 23.
(All photos below the editor’s note taken in Berlin by Roy L Hales)