Brazil to Build Solar-Powered Charging Stations for Electric Vehicles


Photo: Flickr, CC
"Electric Vehicles" Mostly Means Electric Bikes, So Far...
Petrobras, the semi-public Brazilian oil giant (the government of Brazil owns 55.7% of Petrobras' common shares with voting rights), has just built the first of what it hopes will be many electric charging stations. It is located in the Barra de Tijuca neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro because that area has the most electric motorcycles and bikes in circulation in the country.What's interesting about the charging station is that it is solar-powered whenever the sun's shining, but it still maintains a tie to the main electrical grid for when it's dark.

Edimar Machado, the head of Petrobras' distribution division, said that the battery charging point will be mostly symbolic for now, "awakening environmental awareness by showing people that it is possible to use energy without harming the environment." But awareness has to start somewhere, and even if these stations were not directly powered by the sun, it would still be a good thing to create a charging infrastructure to break the "chicken vs. egg" dilemma faced by electric cars and bikes (especially in urban areas where not everybody has a garage or a reserved parking spot).

IPS News reports: "The next phase depends on how quickly the market for electric vehicles expands to make the project commercially viable, and will consist of creating charging points all over the country. Ideally, according to Machado, they should be spaced about 30 kilometres apart."


Sugarcane field in Brazil. Photo: Wikipedia, CC

But Brazil still has a loooong way to go when it comes to electrification of transportation. Electric cars are extremely rare, and even electric 2-wheelers are numbered in the hundreds or low thousands. The country has mostly focused on sugarcane ethanol so far; a fuel that is a lot more energy positive than the corn ethanol of the US, but that can still have a big negative impact if the sugarcane is grown on deforested land.

What would have a bigger positive impact on the environment would be investments in further improve mass transit. One possibility would be to bring the Curitiba Bus Rapid Transit model to other Brazilian cities (and other countries should pay attention too).

Via IPS News, EcoWorldly
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Tags: Brazil | Electric Cars | Electric Vehicles | Transportation