The station was donated by the Brooklyn-based Beautiful Earth Group and will operate completely autonomously as it is powered by solar panels which will produce 5.6 kilowatts of power – enough to charge five of Brooklyn Bridge Park’s service vehicles as well as an electric car and a small home. The station is expected to save the park approximately $200,000 in gasoline costs.
I suspect this station is rather early on the scene, an anomaly rather than accurate indicator of New York’s imminent future. The first lines of consumer EVs are only now starting to roll into showrooms, so it’s not like the demand is there yet. And it accordingly sounds like the station will be used far more to service park maintenance than the general public.
Building an actual EV infrastructure is by comparison a much longer way off, if we even choose to go that route at all. Still, the Brooklyn Park station works quite well on a symbolic level. If nothing else its high-profile location in a rapidly-improving park—located in one of America’s major cities to boot— is damn good publicity.
Besides, it makes sense that electric vehicles should catch on faster in government and commercial enterprises. Any large park or complex (let’s imagine a university) which utilizes small carts to move employees and equipment around could easily benefit from installing an EV station and throwing a few solar panels up on top of their many buildings. Their investment is a purely internal affair which doesn’t rely on outside variables like infrastructure or the market.
Actually getting public-use EV stations up and running for the consumer is a whole different matter. At the heart of the problem is the classic chicken-and-egg dichotomy: there can’t be EV stations until the cars to utilize them exist, and EV cars likely won’t catch on in a big way until the infrastructure to support them is adequately developed. My guess is we will be charging our electric cars at home for the foreseeable future, until enough of the public own EV cars to force the market’s hand.
Until then, let’s watch closely and see how well Beautiful Earth Group’s endeavor plays out in New York.