Electric vehicles are everywhere. A few years ago, seeing an electric vehicle was quite an opportunity, but now EVs are very common. It’s hard to drive for more than a few minutes without seeing an electric car on the road, but charging infrastructure isn’t that commonplace. It goes without saying that as more EVs are sold, charging infrastructures will also continue to grow.
The question is: are these charging networks as clean as the vehicles they need to charge? Which begs the question: What are the greenest charging networks in the US?
1. Electrify America
Ok, first is Electrify America. The funny thing about this network of electric charging stations is that it is owned by Volkswagen. Yes, the same Volkswagen that was involved in the crazy dieselgate scandal not so long ago. Now Volkswagen is making amends. Not only is VW’s range of electric vehicles expanding, it is also trying to straighten out by investing money in charging infrastructure.
The new Volkswagen is all about green energy and doing the right thing. Electrify America is her way of trying to win back the trust of her customers and help plant the seed of green energy wherever it can.
To achieve this goal, Electrify America’s energy output is backed by renewable energy certificates, meaning 100% of the energy it sells is backed by “renewable” energy. The actual electricity it sells cannot be monitored and tracked. But by using these renewable energy certificates, it can theoretically say that it is buying clean electricity.
Renewable energy certificates are a topic in their own right, but the idea of these certificates comes out of the blue. The idea is to have renewable power plants sell energy, as well as the certificate, which certifies that they have produced that clean energy. Electrify America is also working on a solar park. According to Electrify Americait will produce enough power annually to offset all the energy it sells in a year to people using its charging stations.
Once operational in 2023, the farm’s annual renewable energy is expected to offset the energy we currently supply to drivers on an annual basis across our entire public charging network.
The solar park should be operational in 2023 and promises to be a game changer in the world of EV charging providers. If Electrify America can scale and distribute these solar farms across the country, they can really make a difference.
2. Tesla Supercharger Network
Tesla is the one EV company that everyone will always look at. Not only does it offer great performance EVs, but it also offers a huge charging network. Whatever move Tesla makes will certainly be followed closely by other companies in the segment.
The Supercharger network is the largest global EV charging network. Ideally, each Supercharger station would be powered entirely by solar energy and disconnected from the local grid.
This is of course an ideal scenario, and it is not the reality of the moment. But when you visit? Teslait’s clear they’re focused on making Superchargers as eco-friendly as possible.
Our global network had 99.96% uptime and was 100% renewable by 2021, achieved through a combination of onsite resources and annual renewable matching
Tesla will also be adding Supercharger stations for its upcoming Tesla Semi, so it’s important that they continue to develop renewable energy sources on-site for its stations.
Especially for the Semi, as trucks sometimes have to traverse remote locations, and a self-propelled Supercharger in the middle of nowhere is a great idea. Tesla also makes an interesting case by saying that its Supercharger stations will actually be used less because Tesla vehicles have a longer range.
When the Model S was introduced, the range was less than what it is today. Significantly less actually. As a result of the range improvements that the Model S has received, owners need to charge their vehicles less on a Supercharger.
But this still isn’t a substitute for going out and installing clean energy on site for every Supercharger station. The good news is that this is exactly what Elon Musk has in mind.
EVgo is another company that provides charging services for electric vehicles. Like Electrify America, they also claim that their energy is 100% renewable, again through the use of RECs. Again, this is a great initiative, but it would be great to see on-site renewable energy being implemented in more charging stations.
According to EVgo, the company buys a REC for every kWh of energy it sells through its chargers. In places where the local grid is powered by 100% renewable energy, it is not necessary to supply these charging stations with power on site. Hopefully the local electricity networks will also become cleaner. Either way, it’s still a pursuit of a cleaner future.
For every kilowatt hour (kWh) consumed on our network, EVgo purchases a corresponding kWh Renewable Energy Credit (REC) from an authorized REC supplier.
EVgo has more than 850 stations in the US and they are fast-charging so you can quickly recharge your vehicle’s battery. The great thing is that you can charge your EV at their stations no matter what model EV you drive.
Even Tesla vehicles can be charged at EVgo, so you are no longer relegated to a Supercharger when you drive a Tesla. EVgo offers several ways to pay for its service, with options ranging from paying locally for the single charging sessions to monthly plans that save you money.
The future of EV charging stations is on-site renewable energy
Renewable energy credits give buyers peace of mind that they are doing the right thing. But this method has its limitations and the ideal solution is charging with renewable energy directly from the source. This is the way to go, and it’s great to see that this idea also has the support of Elon Musk.