The time for an electric vehicle status quo is coming. In the last two decades, EVs have gone from a cool science experiment that will never be financially feasible for the masses to a legitimate transportation alternative, becoming cheaper by the day. Battery-powered cars will soon be available at the same cost as internal combustion vehicles — this is especially true as one looks at the total cost over the lifetime of the car and the current gas prices.
A few obstacles still stand in the way of the U.S. becoming electrified fully. First, we need to ramp up our renewable power generation so our power grid, which electric cars rely on, is clean and sustainable. The second is the power grid itself. Given the range limitations of most EVs, it’s unclear whether the current grid is expansive enough. Robust charging infrastructure is essential to equip hundreds of millions of Americans with reliable driving power.
A company out west is working on a solution to the charging infrastructure problem. Renewable Innovations, a startup based in Utah County, recently announced a partnership with automotive giant General Motors to develop a portable charging station system. Doing this would invalidate the insecurities around the existing power grid, allowing for a far more flexible network to support the growing number of EV customers.
The Renewable Innovations model would be able to bend and shift in the direction that people are moving and respond to growing or shrinking population differences. Not only would this theoretically bring a lower investment cost through decreased construction costs, but it would also eliminate a great deal of the location-based risk for any business firmly attached to the ground.
The adaptability of the setup provides an essential selling point that executives at Renewable Innovations feel doesn’t exist in the same capacity elsewhere. “It’s very exciting what we’re doing,” says Robert Mount, founder and CEO of Renewable Innovations. “The whole idea here is to be able to, in a modular, scalable footprint, generate clean, renewable power to do a lot of great and wonderful things.”
The portable charging stations will be made possible with General Motors’ HYDROTEC fuel cells, a hydrogen-based battery system. Mount and his company were chosen for the collaboration for their extensive history of hydrogen experience, having worked on hydrogen fuel cell technology for the last eight years.
The new collaboration will be called EMPOWER, with stations being capable of charging four different cars at once. Rapid charging was one of the core aims of the partnership, with EMPOWER stations taking just 20 minutes to reach a full charge.
Renewable Innovations is working to roll out the first 500 stations around the nation by 2025.