Stories from a Blue Planet: Bob Kihslinger - June 2021
Gas Stations without EV chargers
Did you ever wonder why gas stations don’t have EV chargers? After all, the near future promises to have hundreds of thousands if not millions of electric cars and trucks roaming the highways. Doesn’t your local Kwik Trip want in on the action?
President Biden is pushing to have 500,000 EV chargers installed across the nation. What better place than your local gas station where 40 million transactions a day take place. However, a full 80% of the current chargers are installed at hotels, shopping centers, parking lots, food stores, etc. Very few at gas stations.
Cara Korte (CBS News) explored the reasons why gas station owners aren’t rushing to install EV chargers.
Once again, it’s a profit story. Less than two percent of cars today are electric. There are three basic types of EV chargers available commercially. With the rate at which new cars and charging technology are changing things could get antiquated quickly. Who wants to put install something that will soon be obsolete? That’s only the start of the problem. Gas stations will have competition for those customers. Businesses and cities can plop charging stations most anywhere they wish and who’s to say that consumers won’t charge up in their garage 80% of the time.
There are other factors to consider. How much will they be able to charge for a charge and how will it change their relationship with the local utility company. Until solid state batteries are commonplace in cars the charging time can be 30 minutes or more. How will convenience store, gas stations gear up to entertain all those electric car folks while their vehicle is being powered up? The last thing they want is to have a couple dozen people milling about and getting in the way of their core business customers.
On top of it all, a high powered 480 volt charging station could cost up to $125,000. Unlike a gas pump whose payback is about one year, no one knows what the payback will for an EV station. Indeed, some estimate it could be seven years to achieve payback making the investment a bit dicey.
Nonetheless, the days of the internal combustion engine are numbered, and gas stations will have to figure out what their business model will look like by the year 2030.
What the heck is a green vortex?
We have had little legislative action regarding climate change and renewable energy in the past decades. In fact, according to a recent article in Atlantic by Robinson Meyer, our record is abysmal. Yet despite it all in 2020 we were down 21% in carbon emissions and hit a target of 20% renewable energy.
What gives? Of course, in 2020 the pandemic was a part of the answer, but the real answer lies in understanding the term “the green vortex”. "The green vortex describes how policy, technology, business, and politics can all work together, lowering the cost of zero-carbon energy, building pro-climate coalitions, and speeding up humanity’s ability to decarbonize." It is a swirling broth of human activity that produces sustainable products and services.
The green vortex is a “self-accelerating process” is not driven by government but by millions of people in thousands of companies around the planet who are simply finding decarbonization a profitable and ethical thing to do. The growth is exponential simply because practice makes perfect. Things get more efficient and less costly. The momentum is contagious and practical.
The vortex is much broader than energy companies that have winners and losers like solar and coal. The vast horizon of all businesses large and small are responding to the crisis by reducing their use of energy and raw materials. Those companies are massive in size like the auto industry but also include the beauty salon, your local heating and cooling contractor, and your favorite restaurant.
With assistance from the current administration who knows how powerful the “green vortex” can get. Whether it can outpace the increasing devastation of climate change in still an unknown. We can do our part as consumers by seeking out those businesses that are exhibiting “real” effort to become sustainable, and by finding and purchasing sustainable products.