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: National Electrical Contractors Association Convention Highlights and EVITP

National Electrical Contractors Association Convention Highlights and EVITP

04 Oct

The National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) gathered at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas from September 30th to October 2nd for their annual Convention and Expo.

Madison Burnett, Director of Electrical Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee of Southern Nevada, talks with NECA Convention attendees.

The Electrical JATC booth at the NECA convention also showed a pictorial history of how southern Nevada and Las Vegas were built over the last century, including Hoover Dam.

NECA has helped fund and start up the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program (EVITP) to train each electrical contracting company’s employees about proper installation techniques, building codes, load calculations and other considerations when working with electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) and plug-in electric cars.

Findlay Chevrolet provided a Chevrolet Volt as the centerpiece for the EVITP display at the booth of the Electrical JATC of Southern Nevada during the NECA Convention. Photovoltaic solar technologies were also on display at the booth.

Rear view of photovoltaic solar panel exhibit showing a battery storage system that can harness sun power so that it is still available during the night.

Wind turbine display at the booth of the Electrical JATC of Southern Nevada during the NECA Convention.

In southern Nevada, EVITP training is facilitated by Madison Burnett and Robert Buntjer of the Electrical Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee (JATC) of Southern Nevada at: http://www.earnwhileyoulearn.org

Robert Buntjer, EVITP Trainer, shows a visitor the insides of a Chevrolet Volt.

The Nevada Electric Vehicle Accelerator (NEVA) helped EVITP stage a one-day seminar on applicable National Electrical Code issues and residential appliance load calculations at two locations in Nevada during May 2012. These webinars were held during successive days, with one event in Reno and one in Las Vegas.

NEVA again supported EVITP educational outreach efforts during the National Electrical Contractors Association Convention and Expo, by arranging with Findlay Chevrolet to provide a plug-in Chevrolet Volt as the centerpiece of the Electrical JATC booth representing southern Nevada. Other technologies featured in the booth were a ChargePoint EVSE station, photovoltatic solar cell array electrical wiring exhibit, and a wind turbine display. NEVA Southern Nevada Outreach Coordinator Stan Hanel helped answer questions about NEVA, electric cars, and electric car infrastructure efforts in Nevada during the three days of the exhibit. Visitors from Hawaii, upstate New York, Indiana, Louisiana, California, and other regions shared their educational experiences promoting EVITP to members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), as well as other members of their EV infrastructure communities.

Bernie Kotlier, EVITP National Co-chair, who helped organize the two EVITP workshops for NEVA during May 2012, also presented at the NECA Educational Booth in the center of the exhibit hall, where he answered questions about electric cars and EVITP on the final day of the NECA convention.

Siemens AG booth at NECA Convention featuring EVSE equipment that included both residential SAE J1772 Level 2 EVSE, as well as public EVSE mounted on bollards that were linked to the ChargePoint network.

The electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) industry was represented in the NECA Exhibit Hall by Leviton, Siemens AG, GE Energy and Schneider Electric, who all exhibited their EVSE product lines. Leviton and Siemens AG support ChargePoint, a networked EVSE technology company, by adding this feature to their product lines. An EcoTality representative also handed out brochures about that company’s “Blink” network and EVSE product line, as well as their participation in The EV Project sponsored by Idaho National Laboratories.

Leviton booth with ChargePoint EVSE

Besides SAE J1772 Level 2 EVSE in each of the exhibit booths, Schneider Electric also displayed a DC Quick Charge station capable of recharging the battery pack in a Nissan LEAF (24 kilowatt-hours of energy storage capacity) to 80 percent state of charge in just 25 minutes. The DC Quick Charge station used the CHAdeMO connector protocol established by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and already adopted as an option by automakers in Japan for the Nissan LEAF and Mitsubishi i-MiEV.

Schneider Electric DC Quick Charge station with TEPCO/CHAdeMO cable and plug.

TEPCO/CHAdeMO connector standard for DC Quick Charge used by the Nissan LEAF and Mitsubishi i-MiEV. DC Quick Charge Station EVSE by Schneider Electric.

Because the Society of Automotive Engineers International has not yet established an accepted worldwide DC Quick Charge standard, eight automakers in the United States and Europe have decided to come up with their own de facto standard, know as the Combined Charging System (CCS). Audi, BMW, Chrysler, Daimler, Ford, GM, Porsche and Volkswagen have all agreed to adopt the CCS standard. This system will eventually only require one charging port on an electric automobile for both AC and DC power sources, rather than two separate connector ports as Nissan and Mitsubishi are using at this time. The CCS connector protocol will be similar to the existing SAE J1772 standard. It adds two large pins at the bottom of the standard SAE J1772 connector set to handle the high voltage and current avaiable from a DC Quick Charge system that can exceed 400 Volts DC at 100 Amps and above.

Once the new CCS standard is finalized, the Schneider Electric DC Quick Charge station has an extra slot available in its EVSE station, where it can retrofit a CCS standard cable and plug connector just to the right of the TEPCO/CHAdeMO cable and plug that are already present. This allows the DC Quick Charge station to be used by any electric vehicle with a Quick Charge port, whether equipped with the TEPCO/CHAdeMO standard port or the CCS port. An RFID card with account information is passed in front of the symbol on the right side of the station to activate the device and a digital color display screen adds helpful prompts.

Both Leviton and GE Energy also presented technical workshops during the event. The Leviton workshop was entitled “EVSE Installation Observations and Trends”. It was presented by Manoj Karwa, Senior Director of EVSE at the company. In addition to presenting the Leviton product line, Karwa also talked about “lesson learned” from his experiences selling and facilitating EVSE installations. One notable example highlighted during his PowerPoint presentation was the fact that each electric car may have its recharging port located in one of five areas on the vehicle – front, right driver side, rear driver side, front passenger side, and rear passenger side.

When choosing an EVSE bollard with two SAE J1772 Level 2 cables and plugs for two parking locations, it is important to consider cable length when making the installation. If the EVSE is positioned at the head of the two parking spaces at their center point, then a 25-foot cable would be preferable to an 18-foot cable in order to reach to the opposite rear side of each vehicle.

GE Energy EVSE, including two Wattstations positioned at the left and center, with a GE Durastation shown on the far right.

GE Energy presented a technical workshop entitled: “Solar and EV: A Winning Combination”. Seth Cutler, Lead Product Manager for Electric Vehicle Infrastructure and Industrial Solutions, as well as Brian Schmalberger, Solar Solutions Manager, presented talks about the decreasing price of solar cells due to Chinese competition. Current prices are now at about 84 cents per cell, as compared to $30 per cell in 1970. Installation of a rooftop photovoltaic solar cell array that includes peripheral equipment and labor is now about $4 per watt, down from $5 per watt just one year ago and $6 a watt just two years ago. Federal tax credits of 30 percent are still available for home installations.

Seth Cutler, EV Infrastructure Manager at GE Energy, demonstrates the company’s GE Wattstation EVSE.

Seth Cutler gave an overview of the growth of the plug-in electric car industry, including upcoming 2013 models from Ford and Mitsubishi. He also highlighted his company’s EVSE product line of GE Wattstations and Durastations.

Both he and Schmalberger talked about recent installations by GE Energy of photovoltaic solar canopies that covered parking areas while also providing partial electric power for EVSE available at each parking space for plug-in electric cars. The presenters emphasized GE Energy’s capabilities as a “one stop shop” for all the equipment needed to harness the efficiencies gained by combining solar and EV technologies.

SpaceShipOne and mothership White Knight in flight, trailed by a chase plane.

Dr. Peter Diamandis, Chairman and CEO of the X Prize Foundation, spoke on the last day of the keynote address about the benefits of staging a competition with a significant cash prize award to stimulate breakthrough engineering efforts by independent teams of entrepreneurs. The inspiration for this event was Charles Lindbergh and the Spirit of St. Louis, who embarked upon a heroic flight without knowledge of all the risks that still might arise. Lindbergh was at least partially motivated by the Orteig Prize, a $25,000 monetary award by New York hotel owner Raymond Monteig in 1919, given to the first person who could fly across the Atlantic from New York to Paris or from Paris to New York.

Diamandis related his own life experiences founding unique start-up companies as well as the challenging journey to establish the Ansari X Prize that launched the first civilian astronaut into outer space. Bert Rutan and Mojave Aerospace Ventures captured the first $10 million X Prize by launching SpaceShipOne from its mothership, White Knight, in mid-air. Twice within a week, the rocket plane ascended 64 miles into suborbital outerspace before returning through earth’s atmosphere to land at its spaceport in Mojave, California.

Burt Rutan and SpaceShipOne

Diamandis pushed to get the X Prize off the ground, even though he didn’t initially have the $10 million available to award the winner. Thanks to a timely “angel investor”, he was able to pull out the financing and watch history unfold.

Now the X Prize foundation is now well-funded with a strong advisory board that includes Sergei Brin of Google, Elon Musk of SpaceX and Tesla Motors, James Cameron, film director of the Titanic and the 3D film Avatar. Diamandis is now staging multiple X-Prize competitions in parallel. The Progressive Automotive X Prize focused on electric car performance where 40 teams competed to push forward electric car technologies.

Edison2 was the first place winner of the Progressive Automotive X Prize. The Edison2 team was awarded $5 million while 2nd and 3rd place teams split the remaining $5 million.

When asked during his speech what he thought about the future of electric vehicles, Diamandis said that they are very much here to stay. One future X Prize he is organizing will award a monetary prize for the best new battery cell technology that can be produced and scaled up for electric cars.

Diamandis, a self-confessed Star Trek fan, just released his latest book: “Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think” available through Amazon. In the book, he cites the breakthrough work, discoveries, and entrepreneurial spirit he has witnessed while organizing his X Prize competitions. One of his next ventures is to develop a “Tricorder” medical unit as used by the medical staff in Star Trek. That X Prize competition already has over a thousand applicant teams.

The NECA convention exhibit hall closed at 2:30 PM on the last day of the trade show. Attendees continued the party by taking their families to see the Cirque du Soleil production of “La Reve” at the Wynn Resort before returning home.

The next NEVA convention will be in Washington, D.C. during 2013, or as one moderator called it, “Sin City”.

Viva Las Vegas!

Posted by Stan Hanel, Outreach Coordinator, Nevada Electric Vehicle Accelerator

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