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Firm Develops Rapid Solar-Powered Charger

Published Friday Oct 2, 2020

An XL Fleet vehicle charges at an EV LaunchPad rapid charging station. Courtesy photo.

A Portsmouth-based company is on a mission to create the infrastructure needed to make electric vehicles ubiquitous in NH. And they want to turn your household and vehicle into a power grid that can sell energy back to utilities.

EV LaunchPad, an electric vehicle (EV) charging station developer and manufacturer, launched in 2017. Co-founders Gary Bergeron and James Penfold say, despite increased interest in EVs, there is a gap in infrastructure to support them.

The company has installed solar installations for the National Guard in NH. EV LaunchPad also installs charging stations for Tesla.

Because the co-owners’ backgrounds are in solar energy, they were inspired to create a system where the batteries become power cells and get their energy from the sun.

After 18 months of development, EV LaunchPad recently installed its first commercial rapid charging station, which can charge to 20 vehicles at once at XL Fleet in Boston, an electric vehicle fleet services company. “We have a modular system to allow a fleet operator to easily and inexpensively expand,” Penfold says.

Bergeron and Penfold say there are plenty of opportunities. They point to Tesla’s lower-priced models and how other car manufacturers are rolling out EVs.

They also note the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s settlement with Volkswagen, which created a $2.7 billion fund to support projects nationwide that reduce emissions. “New Hampshire is lagging in EV and fleet charging infrastructure.

The Hooksett toll plaza only has Tesla DC fast chargers, and they can only be used for Teslas,” says Bergeron, a master electrician who has worked in the renewable sector for more than 40 years.

Bergeron says current EV infrastructure is missing battery storage. Penfold adds that once EVs are more prevalent, charging those vehicles during peak electric hours will strain the power grid. “Battery storage is the key to that challenge,” he says.

On the residential side, EV LaunchPad’s power cell uses clean power that can generate enough electricity to allow homeowners to sell back to the grid, while charging the EV is free, Bergeron says. Regarding commercial installations, Penfold says a freestanding station, using solar-powered batteries lets businesses avoid tearing up a parking lot to install electricity.

“The trend we hope to encourage and develop moving forward is to have millions of individual cars, trucks and residential power cells tied onto and powering the grid from their smart charges and smart solar inverters,” Bergeron says. EV LaunchPad is looking for property owners of malls and restaurants near highways in NH to set up charging stations for public use.

EV LaunchPad has offices in Portsmouth, Hollis and Burlington, Vt., six full-time employees and 10 to 20 contractors assisting on projects.

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