Better Place charging network deployed in Oahu

Systems already in place in Israel and Denmark were ‘blueprints’ for program in Hawaii.

By
April 24, 2011 01:52
3 minute read.
Better place car charging

Better place 311. (photo credit: Better place)

 
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Israeli-owned electric vehicle corporation Better Place began deploying Hawaii’s first car-charging infrastructure on Tuesday, by opening 10 charge spots on the island of Oahu.

The charge stations, five located at the Sheraton Waikiki and five at Hawaiian Electric sites, were launched in cooperation with Kyo-ya Hotels & Resort, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Waikiki, Hawaiian Electric Company and the Hawaii Renewable Energy Development Venture.

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While the cars to accompany the charging stations have not yet arrived in Hawaii, Better Place said the pilot program would include seven vehicles, two of which would be operated by Kyo-ya and five by Hawaiian Electric, at a total cost of approximately $1.1 million, of which about $500,000 was provided by the US Department of Energy and the Hawaii Renewable Energy Development Venture.

The hotel cars will probably be used as shuttle vehicles for guests, while the the University of Hawaii’s Hawaii Natural Energy Institute will track usage and performance, the company said.

“In Hawaii, what we’re looking specifically to do is to open a small pilot [project],” Better Place spokeswoman Julie Mullins told The Jerusalem Post.

She said the project would focus on managing the grid at the company’s operation management center, while raising awareness around the state about the advantages of electric vehicles.

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“The goal is that by November this year, once cars start coming in, the guests will have access to the charge spots.”

While Hawaii has an abundance of renewable energy resources, the state hasn’t yet seen substantial harnessing of such energy, according to Mullins.

Hawaii has set a goal of reaching 70 percent renewable power by the year 2030; Israel hopes to reach 10% renewables by the year 2020.

“We’re breaking ground in Hawaii,” Mullins said, adding that Better Place hoped to expand to at least the four largest Hawaiian islands by late 2012.

“The biggest [interest] in Hawaii is that they’re very strong renewable energy targets.

Right now they’re basically dependent on gasoline for almost all of their energy needs and have to import about 90% of their oil,” she said.

Hawaiian government officials were equally enthusiastic about the venture.

“Better Place’s electric vehicle network is an innovative approach to integrating electric vehicles into our island grids,” US Sen. Daniel Inouye, 86, said in a statement issued by Better Place.

“This network made up of federal, state and private sector investments is transforming Hawaii’s transportation system into one powered by clean energy from electricity instead of imported oil. I am pleased to have been able to play a small role in reaching this important milestone.”

Jason Wolf, vice president of Better Place North America, added in the same statement: “The electrification of transportation will speed the adoption of renewable energy in Hawaii.”

While Better Place will soon launch a electric taxi program in California that will have four battery switch stations and 60 cars by the beginning of next year – similar to its program already running in Tokyo – Hawaii was the first state to benefit from a “managed charging” network, like the networks already implemented in Denmark and Israel, Mullins said.

Better Place Israel, which already has more than 1,000 charging spots around the country, launched its first battery switching station in Kiryat Ekron, south of Rehovot, on March 23 and announced that it would deliver cars to customers here by the end of this year.

“What we’re seeing in Israel and Denmark is that a lot of the technology is being designed and tested and implemented,” Mullins said. “Israel and Denmark will serve as blueprints as to how we scale this out.”

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