FreeWire shows us how to solve rural US shipping challenges - CleanTechnica

FreeWire shows us how to solve rural US shipping challenges – CleanTechnica

I recently came across a company called free wire On social media, they seem to have a good solution to something preventing rural charging stations from happening in the US. Before I get into how the company does it, let’s take a look at the problem first, so we can fully appreciate its solution.

Why don’t we see too many rural charging stations in the US

No matter where you place a charging station, one of the biggest costs will be dealing with the power company. Of course, you will buy electricity to run a charging station. This is given. But, if you take a closer look at your electricity company’s rates, you’ll see that there are residential and commercial rates, and that commercial rates include something called an application fee. This is charged in kilowatts, not kilowatt-hours.

To calculate your application fee, the power company considers how much power they had at their highest over the course of the entire month. This is not a look at how much energy you got from them, but how much energy you got at a given moment. To compare this to your water bill, energy is the number of gallons you used, while energy is the volume of tube feeding you energy. The larger the wires must be to support the highest (peak) power draw, the more you will cost to service.

For a relatively slow 50 kW single-plug plant, that cost alone would be at least hundreds of dollars per month. If you operate several 150-250 kW plants, and they are all used at once, you will have to pay thousands of dollars per month. It is very expensive.

Even worse, this is on top of paying for any electrical infrastructure required at the start of the project. If there are not really large wires running in the area with excess capacity, you will have to pay the power company money to build power poles, connect wires, etc. So, to review, you’re making a big down payment on your power and making big bucks every month to make sure the power keeps flowing and the wiring is maintained.

In addition, you would still have to pay the normal commercial kilowatt-hour rate for all of that power and generation capacity to deliver it.

The cost of doing all this would be much higher in rural areas. Not only is the generating capacity limited, but the wires that would feed a high-powered charging station would need to be massive. This prevents most for-profit companies from being able to afford to install DC fast charging stations at all, and they will continue to do so.

How FreeWire decompresses the network (and our wallets)

Instead of expecting those who buy the stations to pay the electric company big bucks, FreeWire Technologies has a different plan: Integrate battery storage directly into the station It plans to use much less continuous power. Their charging stations are much larger than what you see in a Supercharger station, but they are all contained in one locker. There is charging equipment, 160 kWh of battery storage (enough to do 2-4 charging sessions in most cases), and all electronics.

The idea of ​​storing energy in charging stations has been implemented before, but there are key differences. Electrify America and Tesla themselves use Tesla battery storage in many locations to do something similar, but this still requires complicated wiring, a separate place to store the batteries, and a long installation time. They do their best to hide battery packs somewhere, but the fact that this is so necessary makes it very difficult to get everything approved. FreeWire sends all of this in a self-contained box that you can install in a few hours instead of working and waiting for months.

The other main thing is that you don’t even need three-phase power for it (but you can use it if it’s available). This makes the task of installing the charging station a lot easier. These can replace a level 2 charging station with a few extra wires or new electric company services, and they won’t add an application fee to your business energy bill. The result is a system that is much cheaper to put in place, but still delivers 100-200 kW of charging power when the driver stops.

Another advantage is that the station can be moved without much hassle. It does not require multi-million dollar infrastructure and wiring hidden under the sidewalk and behind some walls. It’s all in one box and you can just move the box (with forklift, truck, etc of course) to another place with electricity if you need to.

Finally, this can enable some stations outside the network that would otherwise be prohibitively expensive. In rural areas of highways that have sidewalks but no electricity nearby, a home-sized solar installation can keep one of these plants running. More solar power (maybe 2-4 times the size of a residential facility) would be better, but for occasional use, it wouldn’t require a giant solar farm. This will help enable a few other vehicles to drive on a country road when this is not possible at all.

some challenges

There are some obvious technical limitations. One of the main ones is that using a smaller electric service means that the station can be depleted by simply charging a few vehicles in a row, and be out of service for a while. In many cases, the station can take hours to be ready for another customer again.

There are two ways around this, though. You can install multiple stations and encourage drivers to choose the station with the most power. This will increase the number of cars that can be charged at a particular location per day. You can also set the speed on busiest days to help stations keep up with demand. This may discourage charging at the site, but that may be a good thing because people can move to another site with better power.

Another option is to use the app (which is easy to use with the company, What her website says), and tell drivers which chargers can accept more cars and which ones to avoid. This can be enhanced through price changes to prevent drivers from ignoring the needs of the network. Higher rates at stations that can charge fewer cars per day will allow those who need them most to get charged while making other drivers with longer ranges stop just long enough to get to another station or not use them at all.

So, the challenges are at least something that can be overcome, and that puts us in a much better position than we were before FreeWire came along.


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