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Is WiFi the better comparison for EV charging infrastructure models?

10 November 2011
Is WiFi the better comparison for EV charging infrastructure models?

By Robin Haycock, Head of Transport, The Climate Group.

November 10, 2011. 

Is WiFi the better comparison for EV charging infrastructure models?

I have heard far too many times the suggestion that the mobile phone network is the right business model approach to a charging infrastructure,  but I want you to consider it as a potentially out of date scenario.  Bear with me… I sit with my laptop in a coffee shop and I have just had a video conference on Skype while sending txts and data through the free WiFi network,  and I know that somewhere I have paid for the privilege but the coffee was good and the conference was profitable so I don’t care.

My point is that I don’t use my very expensive iPhone much anymore as I favour any business or service provider where they can give me all the communications I need via my laptop for free, so I believe one day soon I may ditch the phone for a pay as you go for when I am not in the boundary of a city…

Now,  if I don’t care that I am paying a percentage of my bill to a coffee vendor, hairdresser, reception, bank, train etc for WiFi,  why should a charging infrastructure for my EV be any different?  A blanket coverage in a city of charging facilities (whether they are slow, fast or rapid) is a solution that means I don’t have to charge at home and, in concept, I have hit the issue of flat dwellers with no parking and the city being the right place for EVs tricky little nail on the head.  

Basically there are a hundred ways by which we could link a service that we pay for to a charging facility even if that facility is remote from the service, and the answer could be just a set of free to air standards that allow people to play and compete in this new blanket city coverage charging system of the future.

I know that doesn’t quite work with trying to persuade people to charge at ‘off peak’,  but even that is a current issue and not the future. We will be challenged when we move to renewables and don’t really know when ‘off peak’ is anymore… 

So I give you the concept of never officially charging for EV charging (sorry but couldn’t resist), but I put it to you that a charging infrastructure equivalent to the blanket WiFi offering we see in cities today, linked to some kind of standards based tariff system set around carbon intensity of the grid at any spot time of the day (a shifting off peak model) is something to think about.

Comments welcome and lets change the world for the better.

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