EV Charging Stations not Leading the Charge Fast Enough.
A multi-billion dollar industry and tens of thousands of green jobs depend on them.
This is the typical chicken and egg problem. No charging stations, no electric cars; no electric cars, no charging stations. Without charging stations everywhere, the range of EV's will remain a problem, until battery and charging technologies deliver break-throughs in increased capacity and shorter charge time. Scientists say it will take 5 to 10 years to get there.
Car manufacturers and venture capitalists have a very keen interest in this market. Its potential is huge, measured in tens of billions of dollars. Both have been pouring huge amounts of capital (well over $1 billion) into charging station companies in the past 5 years.
Four of these charging stations companies are coming out ahead of the pack. The race is intense with all the players trying to sign partnerships with large retailers (Ikea, Walmart, Walgreens), parking operators, mall operators, airports, rental car companies, fortune 500 companies (Boeing, Google), and of course, the largest potential customer, the federal government. But the pace is not fast enough.
Market research firm Frost and Sullivan estimates that the U.S will have over 4 million charging stations by 2017. How will we get there remains a big unanswered question. An entire industry, and tens of thousands of green jobs depend on them.
- Better Place
Better Place has raised a staggering $830 million in 5 years, including $100 million last week from its Israeli backer Israel Corporation. In my opinion its system of swapping depleted batteries with fully charged ones in a few minutes is absolutely the best, compared to the time it takes to recharge batteries. Edging its bets, Better Place also provides a battery charging service.
- Coulomb Technologies/ChargePoint
Coulomb Technologies has raised about $100 million in venture capital (from top VC firm Kleiner Perkins among many others), and recently received an undisclosed amount from BMW iVentures. Coulomb has also received $37 million from the U.S. Department of Energy for its ChargePoint America program. Its ChargePoint network is today the most developed with almost 10,000 charging stations in 14 countries.
evGo is a fully owned subsidiary of NRG Energy, an electric utility. It has signed a $100 million contract with the California Public Utilities Commission, just approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The contract calls for the installation of 200 publicly available charging stations in retail locations in the San Francisco Bay Area, the San Joaquin Valley, the Los Angeles area, and San Diego County. The installation is expected to create 200 construction jobs over 4 years, and an economic benefit of $185 million.
Founded in 1989, ECOTality is the oldest of the charging station companies. The company received two U.S. DOE grants in 2009 and 2010, totaling $115 million to build charging stations and deploy Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt EV's in 5 states. It also received an $8 million grant from the California Energy Commission in 2010.
Other charging station makers and operators include 350Green, AeroVironment, Aker Wade, Andromeda Power, Eaton Corporation, EVCharge America, General Electric, OpConnect, SemaConnect.
This is a shortened version of a much longer story I wrote for TheGreenJobBank.