Faster charging stations for electric vehicles will be strategically placed at key locations in Delaware to enable long trips in the state by next year, through a new collaborative research agreement between the University of Delaware (UD) and the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC).
The 16-kilowatt stations will charge two to three times as quickly as more common models, and the service will be offered free-of-charge to users through at least 2014. Willett Kempton, UD professor, and his colleagues will work with public and private location owners on the initial set-up and on a long-term plan, which could include a fee in subsequent years to cover any ongoing costs. The researchers will monitor station usage and track reductions in pollution and carbon dioxide emissions.
The new stations will not be more than 50 miles apart, which is the battery range for the least expensive electric vehicle models today. The UD-DNREC project will enable trips within Delaware and nearby cities, making the entire state within an electric car’s range. The project also helps fill a regional gap for recharging capabilities between Baltimore and Philadelphia, urban areas where charging stations are more common.
With a budget of $80,000, the entire project costs less than one long-range electric vehicle. Yet the project would serve many hundreds of electric vehicles due to the driving pattern of most Americans, who make long trips only a few days a year.
Delaware is setting up charging stations in a smart way, which is surprisingly more cost-effective than each electric car buyer getting a big battery.—Prof. Kempton
In the Mid-Atlantic region electric chargers are clustered within metropolitan areas such as Philadelphia and Baltimore, but these are not well-located for en-route charging and most are incapable of fast charging.
Electric vehicle drivers in Delaware have access to only a few public charging stations. That does not pose a problem for a driver on a typical day, but longer trips require either battery recharging en route or a large and expensive long-distance battery.
The new project will take into account driver convenience as well as traffic patterns to major destinations in pinpointing locations for five or six new charging stations. Charging a battery from empty to full charge can take from 40 minutes to two hours, depending on the car model, so locations where drivers can spend time dining, shopping or enjoying the outdoors would be carefully considered. For drivers who just need a boost to go an additional 15 miles, the charge may require only 15 to 20 minutes.