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Electric car charging station at 14th and U St. NW

by Prince Of Petworth November 16, 2010 at 11:00 am 50 Comments

“Dear PoP,

Had you seen this yet? Electric car charging station in front of the Reeves Building on 14th St. NW”

An official unveiling is taking place at 10:45 this morning. From a press release:

“The District Department of Transportation and Coulomb Technologies invite you to attend the unveiling of the first curbside public Level II charging station for electric vehicles in Washington, D.C. Now electric vehicles can drive up, charge up and be on their way!

Please join us for an unveiling of the first public curbside ChargePoint America* 240v charging station for electric vehicles. This will be the first of hundreds of planned ChargePoint curbside stations installed in the Washington, D.C. metro area.

Check out electric cars from GM and Ford and see a demonstration of how the charging station operates as we showcase the next step for sustainable and green transportation alternatives in the DC region.”

Do you guys think this is the future?

  • ah

    Aren’t they missing a middle step in there?

    drive up,
    charge up
    *wait a few hours*
    and be on their way

    On the other hand, if I can plug in my iPhone, I’ll be on my way in minutes.

    • Anonymous

      These stations (unless at a place of employment) aren’t meant to fully charge, but to top off what you may have used to get there.

    • TaylorStreetMan

      also, depending on the charger, it could be much quicker. so, go have your lunch, come back to a fully charged car!

  • Is that R2D2’s grandpa?

    • WDC

      Yes, and the rest of the D2 ancestors are featured further down, under “guerilla art”.

  • w00t

    This is awesome.

    I think a lot of potential buyers of electric vehicles are those who live in rental apartments and don’t have garages to plug their vehicle into at night. Having these throughout the city opens up the possibility to purchase an electric vehicle to those buyers.

  • Your Mom

    No. This is not the future. Unless you want to replace oil with rare earth metals and the middle east with China. Then the future’s so bright we’ll have to wear shades.

    • What?

      • Anonymous

        China controls 97% of the world’s rare earth minerals which are used to make high tech goods, such as electric vehicle batteries.

        • Anonymous

          Anon:12:02 worries too much.

          Read this: http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2010/11/04/are-rare-earth-stocks-more-than-a-bubble.aspx

          Bottom line: Rare earth elements aren’t that rare and US mines could provide enough once they ramp up (once it becomes profitable)

        • So then they will be the boss huh?

          Oil won’t last forever and hopefully technology will continue to move forward and we won’t deplete the minerals or have to depend on the big dragon.

          I think it’s sad how American makes nothing anymore. We used to be the best or so our history books say.

          • ah

            Yeah, those factories of the late-1900s were definitely where it’s at. Ask anyone at Foxconn!

    • x

      Don’t get me wrong, I love your cynicism… but the facts don’t line up here.

      Bolivia is actually the country with 70% of the world’s lithium supplies… the limiting factor for electric car batteries. They’re in bed with Iran for Lithium exports, not China.

    • PG

      It won’t be the future until we have jetpacks, robot butlers and flying cars!

  • Hokie in the Hood

    rather see CNG stations around town and in parking garages…

  • IsoTopor

    The main problem I see with this model is vandalism, i.e. people unplugging your car or messing with the open plug while your car is on the street and unattended for hours at a time. On a busy street in a city (frankly anywhere there are people, since jerks know no boundaries), sooner or later someone will mess with your car that is plugged in.

    • w00t

      I think these plugs have locks on them.

  • ML

    I agree with “Your Mom” – I don’t think it can be the future, unless they change the way batteries are made and their efficiency… here a good film regarding another possibility… http://thefuelfilm.com/

    • TaylorStreetMan

      batteries are indeed the limiting factor, but they are improving all the time and have improved tremendously since electric cars first hit the scene.

      The “future” is going to be a patchwork of alternatives that together will carry us away from the burning of fossil fuels. Even if you don’t believe global warming is man-made, the one thing nobody can deny is the fossil fuels are finite. They absolutely will run out one day.

  • Just Passing Through

    The only way electric cars will ever truly catch on in the US is with this kind of a model: http://www.rationalwalk.com/?p=9759

  • Eric in Ledroit

    this is totally ridiculous.

    • TaylorStreetMan

      why?

      • Eric in Ledroit

        it takes hours to charge a car. this is located on the street in a limited parking zone.

        • TaylorStreetMan

          see the 2nd and 3rd comments (one of them being mine) re the charging time. I see these stations as more of a “topping off” while you’re hanging at the coffee shop or something. Not necessarily for filling from zero to 100% while you’re standing there tapping your foot.

          I wouldn’t call it “totally ridiculous”. It’s not perfect, but it’s moving in the right direction. Beats the hell out of clinging to a dying fuel source.

          • ah

            Whether electric cars are a good idea is different from whether they’ll be refueled like gasoline powered cars. Current technology says they won’t. You can fill up in 5 minutes or less. You can’t charge up a meaningful amount in 5 minutes–this is like having a quart of gasoline on the corner, along with an eye-dropper to fill your tank from it.

  • MishiL

    Why does no one EVER mention the pollution that results from the fossil fuels that are PROVIDING the electricity??? It’sa usually dirty, dirty coal…

    • TaylorStreetMan

      you are absolutely correct – for now. Obviously, fossil fuels may never be 100% replaced by things like wind and solar, but we can certainly strive for that goal. The more efficient things like battery range and renewable energy transmission get, the less we’ll be relying on those dirty, dirty coal plants.

      The other factor here is that gasoline engines are in the range of only 20% efficient. Roughly 80% of the energy generated is wasted as noise, heat and vibration. electric engines, on the other hand, are about 80% efficient, getting a whole lot more out of a lump of coal.

      I agree that coal sucks, but I think other forms of clean(er) energy will eventually supply most of the electric grid. Coupled with techniques for sequestering CO2 from coal plants, we can realistically get to a sustainable place in terms of our dependence on coal.

      My 2 cents.

      • GTEXIKAL

        Right, all the energy being spent on promoting electricity as an alternative “fuel” would be much better spent on working out a way to harness the energy in coal in a much cleaner way. It can and will be done, because there is a LOT of coal left in this country.

        • TaylorStreetMan

          can’t tell if you’re being snarky or not….
          I see those two things as working hand in hand: new technology to ensure cleaner burning coal = cleaner electricity and fewer gas burners on the roads.

          Why do those have to be mutually exclusive?

          • GTEXIKAL

            Not being snarky at all. Use the coal to create electricity in a much cleaner way than we do now, because our coal reserves are still vast.

          • TaylorStreetMan

            totally agree.

        • Michael

          There are a few major problems with expecting coal plants with carbon and capture to ever make anything beyond a trivial contribution to solving our problems:

          1. Carbon capture coal plants are incredibly expensive, both to build and to operate. Capital costs for a carbon capture coal plant are at least $5,000/kW, versus a plant wind installed today at around $2,000/kW. And the fuel is free forever for wind, while a coal plant will continue burning expensive coal. Not to mention that carbon capture coal plants will need about 1/3 or more coal to produce the same amount of energy as a regular coal plant (extracting CO2 takes a lot of energy). That’s a lot of additional expense, a lot of additional environmental destruction from coal mining, a lot of additional miner deaths, etc. Just build wind – it’s cheaper.

          2. Where are we going to put all of the CO2 that we capture, and how are we going to get it there? We are talking about a massive amount of CO2 we need to transport and store somewhere, many times more than we move through our oil and gas pipeline infrastructure today. What does that cost? And where will it all go?

          3. Wind plants are ready to be built today, not 10 or 20 years from now, which is the earliest we might see a real carbon capture coal plant. Plus they are far cheaper, don’t require any fuel, and don’t have any CO2 to pipe around and dump somewhere. At the best wind sites in the US we’ve got enough wind energy to meet over ten times our current energy needs. Throw in some solar, goethermal, and a little natural gas generation and problem solved.

          • 4nature

            The other added problem with coal is that it is under land, and the common way is to get to it is to blow off mountain tops, or strip mine to get it. That displaces wildlife, plants, topsoil, and ecosystems. Also livelihoods. My parents farm is being threatened by an ever-growing strip mine, and there is a good chance that 10 years from now they will be forced off the land (a neighbor’s was taken by eminent domain according to my mom). Few people really want to sell their land for a coal mine.

            I heard the governor of Montana once brag that 1/3rd (or was it 2/3?) of his state had coal under it. So 1/3 of the state is going to have the top soil and natural beauty stripped off and farmers/ranchers displaced?

    • Michael

      Actually, the lifecycle carbon emissions from using the marginally electricity mix are much lower than the emissions from a regular car’s gasoline internal combustion engine. Internal combustion engines are so inefficient (20 percent roughly) that even burning dirty coal to power a 90% efficient electric engine is still quite a bit better in terms of carbon emissions.

      • Michael

        And, a significant share of the marginal electric mix (what you use by plugging in a car and adding your incremental amount of demand) in this region is provided by natural gas, which has roughly half the emissions of coal.

  • gup

    Damn you negative people on this blog…i read this article with glee b/c it was at least “hope” for the future. only to have you all burst my “hope” bubble.

    no this isn’t perfect…but it’s a start…seriously, plllllllease go smoke some grass and listen to some uplifting (pun intended) music. everything does NOT suck as ya’ll would purport.

    • Prince Of Petworth

      There is a difference between being negative just for the sake of being negative and debating facts. Nothing wrong with debating facts.

    • TaylorStreetMan

      I still think we should all go smoke some pot, though! :-)

  • Anonymous

    parking will be available 24 hrs a day without limits for now.

    • Anonymous

      I wonder if these stations could have a feature that automatically sends the car’s owner a text message when the battry is fully charged. Give them a window in which they can go pick it up, and if the car’s not gone by then it gets towed.

      • Anonymous

        nice.

  • Jamie

    Yes, but can you recharge your iphone from one?

  • Are the fuels used to create the electricity any better than the gas used by most cars?

    • Michael

      The lifecycle carbon emissions from using the marginally electricity mix are much lower than the emissions from a regular car’s gasoline internal combustion engine. Internal combustion engines are so inefficient (20% roughly) that even burning dirty coal to power a 90% efficient electric engine is still quite a bit better in terms of carbon emissions. Plus, depending on the time and day of the year, a significant share of the marginal electric mix (what you use by plugging in a car and adding your incremental amount of demand) in this region is provided by natural gas, which has roughly half the emissions of coal.

  • I think Michael has too much time on his hands

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