This is almost poetic in a sense. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say (including myself) that hydrogen cars are almost here but a lack of refueling infrastructure is holding them back. Two days ago, the New York Times published an article titled, “Plug-In Cars Are Almost Here, but Charging Stations Lag.”
Now, I’m not a plug-in car hater. In fact, I’ve said for several years now that I see the future in transportation filled with hydrogen plug-in hybrid vehicles. But, hard line electric car enthusiasts have a different vision of the future and that is one where an electric car has a 300 mile range, can recharge in 10 minutes and can do this just about anywhere in the U. S. where one would want to park their car.
They say that since electricity is already running crisscross around the country, that we already have an adequate recharging infrastructure already in place. It’s refreshing to see the NY Times talk about the lack of recharging infrastructure from the electric utility perspective.
According to the NY Times, “Utilities that serve most of the nation’s electricity customers said they were aware of the issue, and would take several steps, including working to help develop plans for charging stations, and would use battery-powered vehicles themselves.”
Part of the problem of a nationwide system of recharging stations is a unified standard. Will this include swapping batteries in cars or building recharging stations at shopping centers, apartment buildings and parking garages? And just how will “range anxiety” be reduced for consumers who are fearful of being stranded with a dead battery?
As the number of EVs grow, overwhelming the electrical grid is a major concern. According to electrical energy executive F. Earley Jr., “The last thing you want is millions of electric vehicles plugged in at 5 o’clock on a hot summer afternoon when the grid is already being taxed.”
On the Climate Action Blog, Terry Tamminen talks about the Myth of Battery Cars and says, “Moreover, on a hot July day in California, if even a few hundred thousand of the state’s 30 million vehicles were attached to the grid, the overloaded system would routinely blackout unless it was upgraded at the cost of billions. Battery car enthusiast Shai Agassi announced he intends to bring his battery cars to San Francisco and would build 250,000 charging stations around the Bay Area alone – – does that sound like new infrastructure to you?”
Now, I’m not saying that plug-in hybrids and BEVs are a bad idea. I just don’t think they are as near term as many people think they are. This idealistic notion of going to work, going shopping, charging the car overnight and then heading out for a long weekend trip without problems (because you just plug-in your car for a few minutes because electricity is everywhere, right?) is not realistic.
By choosing either hydrogen refueling or an electric recharging infrastructure (or both) much work needs to be done. All I ask is that we be realistic about our options going forward.