“Everyone can understand what a charging station is,” says Patrik Lindergren, president of ChargeStorm.
“What may be more difficult to understand is how an intelligent charging station works. The whole thing is based on distributing electrical energy in an efficient and intelligent way to many vehicles under their charge cycle, without overloading the grid.”
Electric cars through Sweden
The summer of 2011 was an “Electric vehicle record” for the organization Green Motorists in collaboration with various stakeholders, including ChargeStorm.
For the first time, an electric car drove from Ystad to Haparanda – a total distance of 4,500 km on an electric drive. The intention was to demonstrate that electric cars exist, that their performance is sufficient, and that it actually was possible to charge them during the trip.
Some of the most common questions asked were:
- How long do the batteries last?
- How do I charge them?
- How long does it take to charge?
Something that travelers soon discovered was that a common power outlet can hardly be regarded as a safe option for charging. A common 10 amps socket works for charging, but the risk increases that fuses blow if the car is recharged while the oven, dishwasher or vacuum cleaner are in use. Another possibility is to use the infrastructure of outlets for engine block heaters widely available in Sweden. These can be used if they are at 10 amps, but in many places they are 6 amps and this is not enough for electric cars. With a current of 16 amps, it is perfectly fine to charge an electric car, but the requirements for effective charge increases if there are more cars to be loaded simultaneously.
Electric car records show that the infrastructure for charging electric vehicles is increasing in a number of municipalities that have installed public charging stations. Charging stations, where the vehicle is loaded in 20 minutes, are mainly for taxis but those stations are still rare in Sweden. With plug-in hybrid cars to hit the market, the demand for charging stations will increase and Elforsk estimates that there will be 600,000 electric vehicles in Sweden in 2020. In order to serve them with the energy needed more than one million charging stations will be needed.
There is clearly a need for more charging stations, but also a need for measures to avoid congestion on the local electrical grid. In addition, motorists have access to quick and convenient loading of their vehicles. ChargeStorms patented technology for controlling the charging of electric cars, called Nano Grid, provides a solution to the above problem.
The brain behind Nano Grid is the “Charge Grid Controller” (CGC) concept. CGC prevents the grid from getting overloaded by organizing, managing and prioritizing the collection of electricity to the different vehicles.
“The technology utilizes existing infrastructure and we have constructed universal charging stations. In combination with the electrical systems that do not need to be oversized, we see our solution as more cost-effective, compared to our competitors’ technology. It is simply faster to reload any charging station,” says Patrik Lindergren.
“We can also offer different types of charges depending on the driver’s wishes on charging speed and what he/she is willing to pay. We therefore offer priority charge, medium fast charging and green charging. Our product portfolio also includes tools for charging the operator to monitor the charging of electric vehicles and charge for the service,” continues Lindergren. “So far, our concept is successful and we see growing interest in our charging stations in a number of countries. We expect to have a turnover of SEK 75 million by the end of 2013.”
WWF awarded ChargeStorm the “WWF Climate Solver” Prize in 2011. The justification included the charging system of the type ChargeStorm developed to facilitate the transition to electric cars and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 21 million tons in 2021.
The article was published in September 2012