Future Now: Solar Plug-in Stations


This is ChargePoint, an electrical plug-in station that’s powered and monitored through a smart network. It was developed by Coulomb Technologies, who recently teamed up with Carbon Day Automotive to add a new little twist. Coulomb and CDA coupled the ChargePoint with a solar photovoltaic array to create one of the nation’s first Solar Plug-in Stations. These pictures show a Solar Plug-in Station provided for the City of Chicago. You may be interested in knowing that this Solar Plug-in Station was designed by Chicago’s own Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (you know, the Eco-Bridge and Clean Technology Tower).


Previously, we mentioned Solar Trees by Envision Solar and also discussed the plug-in, hybrid Prius coming to market in the near future. Throw in the Tesla, or maybe the P.U.M.A., together with this Solar Plug-in Station, and the future looks a whole lot different. We’re seeing the seeds of a new transportation infrastructure. The Solar Plug-in Station is one seed. Envision Solar is another. Plug-in electrical and hybrid vehicles are another.

The ramifications are big, and I imagine real property owners and developers are paying attention. Streets, homes, parking garages, and parking lots will be the gas stations of the future. Like ATMs for banks, forward-thinking property owners could have a new source of income, if they play their cards right. It may take four to five years for electrical vehicles to climb the charts of interest, but it looks like things are going that direction.




[+] Chicago Unveils First Networked Solar Plug-In Station

Photo credits: Carbon Day.

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  • http://mportlandrealestate.com Portland Real Estate

    Wonderful news! Portland and San Francisco are having a friendly competition to see who can get their city wired for EV cars first. It is part of the larger goal for both cities of being the most sustainable city in the world.

  • Eletruk

    Umm, no, this is not a revenue generating proposition. Unless you charge something like $5 per KWh, you will never make back the money invested in the system. Which is kind of why I question the need for billing of electricity anyways. In California (where they have a LOT of experience with this), they found it was actually cheaper to give away the electricity, than to spend the money it takes to track and bill for it. After all, if it’s a 110VAC outlet, you will only draw about 1KWh/hour so that’s 15-20 cents an hour, or around $1 for the whole day. Hardly worth the time and money to bill for!
    Now, if the stations had quick charge (and we are still a couple years away on this, we will needs standards & such) I could see being able to charge a decent fee for that service. But in reality, you will not be able to make any money charging EVs on a 110 outlet. (Almost not worth it on 220 either).

    • http://www.jetsongreen.com Preston

      No one is going to give away free electricity in the long term. And California’s experience, however long, is limited because we’re talking about new stuff. When the future comes — the one where a good portion of people actually drive vehicles that plug in — there will be money to be made. Maybe you need quick charge, or may just a vehicle being parked for a good portion of time, but regardless, these machines will be set up and smart.

      Just like the toll tag in your car, you pop that plug in the vehicle and there will be a charge for that electricity. The property owner will get a cut. The owner of the charging machine will get a cut. The power provider will get a cut. Power providers that show their power comes from a green source will get a premium cut. This is the future.

  • http://cyberspacedeveloper.com mike

    Great Post.

    Solar is going to be huge very soon.

  • Greg W

    Think battery swap.

  • http://www.bradwilkins.com Brad Wilkins

    One way that I have heard from some cities is:
    the parking structure has a three-fold purpose 1) solar tree (obvious purpose) 2) electric car plugin 3) parking meter
    The key is that these are all integrated so that you have synergies between the different functions. The new parking meters are creditcard readers and can add the 50 cents for a full car charge, the power comes from the grid and is ‘recharged’ by the photovoltaic cells… etc… etcc.
    It is very cool and is no longer the future but the present!

  • Anonymous

    If anybody bothers to do the analysis, it is obvious that these systems must use grid power for most the charging, since the size of the solar array is way to small to recharge even one vehicle in a reasonable time.

    Cute gimmick, but its not what the article says.

  • http://www.totalsolarenergy.co.uk/solar-heater-diy.html solar heater

    I love stuff like this. I only wish we were doing the same thing in the UK. I have read that San Francisco have a similar program underway as well.

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