Solar-Powered Charging Stations Are Vital to Promoting EVs

The growth of DC fast-charging stations and Tesla’s Supercharger network in the U.S., especially along busy north-south coastal routes, and the drive to create as many stations as possible in big urban centers, may have obscured a different issue: a lack of accessible EV stations in rural areas. The drive to link up the two coasts along several interstate highway routes has certainly been a priority for Tesla and for a number of other EV charger builders like Electrify America, Volkswagen’s EV station-building arm, but the effort to catch up to northern Europe or China (in terms of stations per 10 square miles) has certainly favored the two coasts, leaving plenty of rural dwellers skeptical of EVs.

Just how those who don’t live along Interstate 5 or 95 will be able to overcome range anxiety has been previewed by a couple of EV station developers, including Electrify America, which has recently added 30 solar-powered EV charging stations in California—not to the Bay Area or to Los Angeles, which already have plenty of their own, but to California’s Central Valley and to rural parts of the Southern California. These standalone, off-grid and free-to-use charging stations are aimed at increasing public access to EV stations away from populated areas, with the goal of increasing EV adoption in all parts of the country.

Two thirds of this batch have been placed at health care centers; after analyzing high-traffic areas in rural parts of the state and identifying communities with the most pressing need for charging stations, Electrify America is focusing on educational and health care facilities.

The 30 new stations were sourced from Beam Global, which used to be known as Envision Solar and took an early lead in developing completely off-grid EV stations. These stations are essentially composed of solar panels and a battery, soaking up the sun in the daytime and storing the energy for use during all hours, including at night. Furthermore, the stations can be used in any weather—and of course during times when the grid is off-line and other EV chargers are down, providing a safety net to residents.

“Electrify America’s mission centers around increasing access to electric vehicle charging infrastructure to meet the differing needs of drivers across a diverse set of communities and lifestyles,” said Nina Huesgen, senior manager, home and ecommerce at Electrify America. “We believe adding renewable energy to our offerings and expanding access to public charging in rural communities will help continue to spur EV adoption in the state.”

We probably won’t see too many solar-powered stations in the cold, gray north, but this still leaves plenty of regions where these stations can make a difference for shoppers on the fence about buying an EV for the first time.

Has the number of accessible EV stations in your area kept you from buying an EV? Let us know in the comments below.

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