In late January, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), working with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), unveiled a prototype of a new, six-bay electric vehicle charging station at the EPRI laboratory in Knoxville, Tenn. It is among the first stations in the United States to incorporate solar generation, grid power, battery storage and energy monitoring technology in the same design.

The prototype station will produce data to assist in implementing key components of the smart grid, such as the integration of renewable-energy resources—e.g., wind and solar—onto the grid; the assessment of the effect on reliability of distributed generation; the use of advance metering infrastructure; and the analysis of electric vehicle supply equipment.

A 12-kilowatt (kW) solar array sits atop the canopy that covers the six charging stations. Three cabinets hold a total of 30 kW of lead-acid battery storage.

“One potential use of the batteries is to store energy at night and offset the impact of the vehicles on local distribution during the day,” said John Halliwell, a senior project manager at EPRI.

“This is the first one constructed,” Halliwell said. “The Oak Ridge National Lab is nearing the completion of a system that has 25 charging spaces. We’ve been sharing insights and designs with Oak Ridge as we proceeded. Altogether, we plan to put out about 125 spaces of parking-charging with the majority installed this year. We are a little bit ahead of the curve on the availability of electric vehicles, but that is something we expect to change as the year progresses. Tennessee is one of the states that are part of the EV Project.”

The EV Project is the largest deployment of electric vehicles and charge infrastructure in history. Government- and privately funded at $230 million, the project is intended to build approximately 15,000 charging stations in 16 cities in six states.

EPRI and TVA undertook the development of the design of the station with Eaton Corp. to create a charging facility that could serve as a model for stations throughout the country.