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ORNL Marks Completion of Solar-Assisted EV Charging Stations

With 125 solar-assisted electric vehicle charging stations to be built from Knoxville to Memphis, Tennessee is poised to lead the nation with an electric vehicle demonstration project led by the Department of Energy and industry partners.

At a ceremony today at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, industry and lab officials celebrated the completion of 25 solar-assisted electric vehicle charging stations. These join six Electric Power Research Institute stations that were completed in Knoxville earlier this year. The remaining 94 stations are scheduled to be finished by the spring of 2012.

As a demonstration project, these charging stations will provide valuable information about station performance, customer charging preferences, component reliability and the impact on the electric grid. In Tennessee, solar-assisted charging stations will be installed at Nissan North America in Smyrna and Franklin, Knoxville, the University of Tennessee, Nashville, Memphis and Chattanooga.

Officials expect the visibility of this project to have a promotional effect that encourages consumers to purchase or lease electric vehicles, which will reduce demand for gasoline and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“This project is part of a long-term effort to bring electric vehicle infrastructure to reality,” said Lee Slezak, a program manager within DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Slezak noted that Tennessee is the only state in the Southeast selected to participate in this nationwide endeavor.

Of the $99.8 million awarded nationally through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to Ecotality North America, ORNL received $6.8 million. Last year this DOE Vehicle Demonstration and Vehicle Infrastructure Evaluation project was awarded an additional $15 million, and with the partner match the total value of the project is about $230 million.

Long-term plans call for 2,535 electric charging locations to be built in Tennessee and a total of nearly 15,000 in Oregon, Washington, California, Arizona, Texas and the District of Columbia. In Tennessee, some of these will be along Interstates 24, 75 and 40. The units are being supplied by Ecotality North America.

While ORNL is home to experts in transportation, solar, grid, materials for battery storage and power electronics, partners including the Tennessee Valley Authority and EPRI bring to the table diverse capabilities that strengthen the team. Other regional partners include the Knoxville Utilities Board, the state of Tennessee, several cities and Nissan, whose Leaf became available in the U.S. late last year.

“Nissan applauds Oak Ridge National Laboratory for its leadership in the development of solar-assisted charging for electric vehicles,” said Tracy Woodard, director of government affairs for Nissan North America.

In Tennessee, buyers of electric vehicles are eligible for a $2,500 rebate from the state and a $7,500 federal tax credit.

Two types of battery chargers will be available. One provides an alternating current, or AC, which can provide a complete charge in four to eight hours – depending on the initial state of charge. The other provides a direct current, or DC, charge, which can provide up to 80 percent of a full charge in 30 minutes.

UT-Battelle manages ORNL for DOE’s Office of Science.

NOTE TO EDITORS: You may read other press releases from Oak Ridge National Laboratory or learn more about the lab at Additional information about ORNL is available at the sites below:

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Ron Walli | Newswise Science News
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