The US Presidency Frees $4.5 Billion in Loan Guarantees for EV Charging Points

The Obama Administration has issued an unprecedented set of actions that involve the country's Federal government as well as the private sector. Its aim is to "combat climate change, increase access to clean energy technologies, and reduce our dependence on oil."
EVs charging in San Francisco 1 photo
Photo: By Mariordo (Mario Roberto Durán Ortiz) - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
As you might expect, electric mobility plays the most important role in this possibly historical decision, with the Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Transport (DOT), the Airforce, the Army, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposing a set of "Guiding Principles to Promote Electric Vehicles and Charging Infrastructure" signed by over 50 organizations including BMW, Ford, Mercedes-Benz USA, Nissan or Tesla.

Ultimately, the purpose of this endeavor is to accelerate "the deployment of electric vehicle charging infrastructure and putting more electric vehicles on the road." Identifying a few of the main problems preventing these two goals from becoming reality, the act proposes a series of solutions on which to focus.

For instance, it speaks about a study on the feasibility for fast charging of up to 350 kW for EVs. This would be able to charge a 200-mile capable battery in just ten minutes, making long-distance travel in an electric vehicle much more endurable. Couple this with another measure proposed by the act - the expansion of the charging stations nationwide - and traveling cross-country on electric power might not be something only Tesla owners could do.

Another aspect is the battery density and its cost per kilowatt hour. The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) is currently researching a way of tripling the specific energy to 500 Wh/kg, which in turn would make the batteries lighter, smaller, and, ultimately, more affordable - below $100/kWh. Tesla, together with IMB and a list of important universities are all involved in this project.

Here is a list of some of the most important announcements the White House made yesterday:

* Unlocking up to $4.5 billion in loan guarantees and inviting applications to support the commercial-scale deployment of innovative electric vehicle charging facilities;

* Launching the FAST Act process to identify zero emission and alternative fuel corridors, including for electric vehicle charging across the country, and standing up an effort to develop a 2020 vision for a national network of electric vehicle fast charging stations that will help determine where along the corridors it makes the most sense to locate the fast charging infrastructure;

* Announcing a call for state, county, and municipal governments to partner with the Federal government to procure electric vehicle fleets at a discounted value;

* Leveraging the power of data and hosting an ‘Electric Vehicle Hackathon’ to discover insights and develop new solutions for electric vehicle charging;

* Publishing a guide to Federal funding, financing, and technical assistance for electric vehicles and charging stations;

* 35 new businesses, non-profits, universities, and utilities signing on to DOE’s Workplace Charging Challenge and committing to provide electric vehicle charging access for their workforce.

It will be interesting to see how much this state support will affect the development and implementation of electric transport, and how fast we'll be able to see its effects, but at the same time, it will also have its detractors. Apart from those directly involved in the oil industry, there are also people who oppose state subsidies as a general rule. They won't be happy to hear about those $4.5 billion, no matter how important the cause might be. In the end, though, all that matters is that these measures have a positive, palpable impact, and that the new administration doesn't see fit to revoke them. You can read the whole statement here (very long read).
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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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