A state-wide network of Electric Vehicle Charge stations using standardized containers is proposed in this paper (pdf). Revenue for the community is generated by electric bike/car charging, car rental, and CBRS wireless broadband.
Just for fun, here’s Max Richter’s verson of Vivaldi’s Spring
There are currently about 1.8 million battery-powered cars on US roads, but only 100,000 charging plugs at 41,000 public charge stations. President Joe Biden wants the US to build 500,000 electric charge stations over the next decade to help serve an estimated 35 million EVs by 2030.
Container-based Electric Vehicle charge stations can provide self-funded, neighborhood-based, power and broadband communications. Community Microgrids create an ‘Oasis’, important due to the higher frequency of wildfires and extreme weather – not just earthquakes. Government grants may help pay for it.
Solar is now the ‘cheapest electricity in history‘, according to the World Economic Forum. The low cost and high performance of perovskite solar cells is one element in the coming photovoltaic revolution that promises to make power dirt cheap.
The cost of battery packs is down by 80% in just a few years, with a $100kW/hr battery within reach. That lowers the cost of a 50kW/hr EV battery to $5K, making electric cars cheaper than gas cars in 3-5 years.
There are three primary goals this paper addresses:
(1) Plan for an energy future with the lowest emissions.
(2) Enable people to earn a living through Mobility as a Service
(3) Provide resilient broadband after an earthquake.
We are proposing a 10x reduction in cost with an increase in useful functionality when you combine (1) a “free” neighborhood charge station with (2) a community (CBRS) mobile wireless hub and (3) electric car and bike rental. Starlink provides a broadband link even if cellular and land lines are down. The vehicle’s battery can supply emergency power to a neighborhood community center. Additional revenue may be generated by renting space on the 40 ft mast.
Joe Biden promised 500,000 charge stations by 2030. That’s 5X the number of charge stations available now. PGE provides up to a $500 rebate for residential customers to install a charger. Customers can either own or lease an EV and income-eligible customers could qualify for up to a $1,000 rebate.
E-bike sales grew 145 percent in 2020 compared to 2019, outpacing sales of all bikes, which were up 65 percent. Spinlister is peer-to-peer bike-sharing platform, allowing bike owners to rent their bike to others. Oonee is a bike storage solution that enhances secure spaces.
Blumenauer’s Electric Bicycle Incentive Kickstart for the Environment (E-BIKE) Act, would give a refundable tax credit of 30 percent on the purchase of a new e-bike.
The Oregon DOE lists some of the incentives available to Oregonians. Go Electric Oregon says all Oregonians can receive up to $2,500 for the purchase or lease of a qualifying new EV while low- and moderate-income Oregonians (under $77K) can save an additional $2,500 on qualifying new or used EVs.
Relevant Buildings and ModsPDX design and build prefabricated container homes in Portland. A complete system with 6 kW solar system with 20-kWh lithium battery costs under $50,000. But the “battery” can be a car.
MOBILITY AS A SERVICE
The Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) market is expected to grow by 32.6% yearly through 2025.
At present, a private car sits around unused on average for over 23 hours per day. A carsharing vehicle in the free-floating system has a five to six times higher utilization rate. Turo and Getaround let car owners rent out their own vehicles. Turo takes about 25% off the top for insurance and other costs. Getaround and Turo require vehicles newer than 2008 with less than 125,000 miles. A 2018 Leaf, for example, might rent for $10/hr, $20 for 3 hrs, or $30 for 8 hours. That’s less than $4/hr.
If you averaged $400/month income ($20 day x 20 days) that leaves you with $300/month. At $3600/yr, in 3-5 years the car might be paid off just in rental fees. Peer-to-peer carsharing lowers the cost and increases the convenience of neighborhood car rentals. Guests can unlock the car directly from the Turo app. Parking fees generate revenue. Steer is a month-to-month subscription service that rents electric cars with insurance, maintenance, repairs and unlimited miles.
JUICING UP & PAYING IT BACK
There are many turnkey EV charge stations for hosts. The EVgo network has more than 1,100 public fast chargers running in 66 metropolitan areas across the U.S., while Electrify America, is planning to install more than 2,000 DC Fast Chargers at nearly 500 sites across 40 states. ChargePoint (the largest) let hosts buy their hardware and pay for the installation, but the hosts can then set the price (which is often free).
But you might do it yourself. Open software for charging networks and off the shelf hardware might enable 2-way power AND solar resiliency. Both the Nissan Leaf (2018 to present) and Hyundai Ioniq offer 2-way power, enabling the use of their car battery to power a community center. Fast chargers that are 10 times smaller and much cheaper than existing Fast DC chargers are also on the way.
The Hyundai Ioniq 5 is equipped with a bidirectional charger enabling “vehicle-to-load” features. It can supply up to 3.6 kW of power. The V2L port is located under the second-row seats, and it can be activated when a vehicle is on. Another V2L port is located at the charging port on the vehicle exterior. The outside port provides power even when the vehicle is turned off.
SOLAR CHARGE CANOPY
Here’s a bill of materials and basic plans for an EV solar charge station putting out 6-9 kwatts. The Wallbox Quasar ($4K) provides Level 2 charging AND local backup power (from the car) during an outage. A 60Kw/hr Leaf battery has the same power capacity as four Tesla Powerwalls. A Vehicle to Grid charger, like the Wallbox, plugs into a 2018 Nissan Leaf ($15k) for transportation or local power. The CBRS radio, satellite backhaul and solar panels add another $25-$30K for a total (roughly) of $50K.
Electrify America’s Home charger costs $649 for up to 40-amps (9.6kW) delivery to the vehicle.
Volkswagen’s new 22 kW bi-directional DC charging station falls between level 2 and level 3 fast-charging. Level 2 uses a 240-volt outlet and typically tops out at 11 kW. The CCS Combo standard also allows for Vehicle to Grid.
A community solar-powered charge station would likely generate $1,000+/month revenue; 1/3rd from car rental, 1/3rd from community car charging, and 1/3rd from community broadband. That money goes back to the neighborhood. After 3-4 years it would likely be paid for…not 10-20 years.
EV4 has solar panels above its charging stations. How does it make any money re-selling $2 worth of electricity? The canopy that houses the solar panels on EV4 charging stations provides a nice visible place to display advertising, explains EV4 CEO Hans van der Meer.
The battery on the EV4 system, allows for a more cost effective connection to the local grid. Most DC fast charging stations tap into the grid using a three-phase, 480-volt connection. A connection like this costs about $15,000. Instead, EV4 Oregon uses a common 100 amp, 220 volt, “standard washer-dryer hookup.”
It also reduces the station’s impact on the grid. The 4KW solar panels generate on average 18 kW-hrs, according to van der Meer. The solar array, combined with the batteries store enough power to fill about two cars. The actual output of the solar array varies, depending on the day and season, from 26kW-hrs in the summer to between 9kW-hrs and 10kW-hrs in the winter. The standard EV4 station is equipped with 15 solar modules (capacity 4 kW), one DC fast charger and one level 2 charger.
EV ARC solar charge stations are off-grid so require no permitting, no construction, no electrical work and generate no utility bill. It fits in a standard parking space. The $65,000 station includes a 4.3kW array and a 24kW/hr battery. Rebates and grants could knock the price down by 50%.
A Nighthawk Mobile Router, an InseeGo 5G mobile router, an HTC 5G Hub, or a $300 Netgear Orbi LTE router can provide mobile broadband. T-Mobile’s wireless service will set you back about $50 a month.
If the community charge station is located in a remote location (or you want back-up communications), a small SpaceX Starlink satellite terminal can provide the backhaul, in lieu of cellular. That service runs about $100/month.
For local connections, Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) uses “free” spectrum at 3.5 GHz and would likely provide better range and reliability than WiFi. Some 150 MHz is available, with as much as 70 MHz available for (paid) licensed users and 80 MHz (or more) available “free” – like WiFi. The range and capabilities of 3.5 GHz are better than 2.4/5 GHz WiFi. A large number of smart phones are now compatible with 3.5 GHz, CBRS.
Tucson used its existing municipal fiber network to build a municipal CBRS network with $5 million in COVID-19 stimulus funding. The city worked with several vendors including fiber provider Zayo, device vendor Sierra Wireless and radio equipment supplier JMA Wireless. The network spans around 40 cell towers covering around 44 square miles – or around 32,000 Tucson households – providing average speeds of between 30Mbit/s and 50Mbit/s.
The adjoining 3.7 GHz (C-band auction) generated $80.92 billion in 2021, the most the government has ever generated on a spectrum auction. The C Band auction, selling slots just above the “free” 3.5 GHz CBRS band, was the highest-grossing spectrum auction in FCC history. Carriers are now looking for a “neutral host” near lots of traffic. That could be a charge station like this.
The shared spectrum is similar to FirstNet’s 700MHz spectrum, which can be accessed by AT&T’s customers when it is not needed by public-safety users. Ordinary cell phones can connect to CBRS, a mile or more away from the CBRS antenna. 5G indoor will have multi-stakeholder investments. Same deal here. AWS Wavelength embeds AWS compute at the 5G Edge to enable applications with ultra-low latencies. Useful for connected cars, smart cities, and smart factories.
CableLabs developed the Intelligent Wireless Network Steering (IWiNS) system that enables mobile devices to seamlessly move across Wi-Fi, LTE, CBRS and potentially C-Band (just above CBRS between 3.7 GHz and 4.2 GHz). The C-Band (n77) is NOW available on the Pixel 5 and LG Wing for 5G, with a free software upgrade, in addition to the “free” CBRS band (available on dozens of phones today).
By 2023, about 90% of all U.S. smartphones will support 3.5 GHz (CBRS) on band 48, using either LTE or 5G. Other wireless bands that might generate additional revenue for an EV charge station include the 600 Mhz band (Dish & T-Mobile), the “C” band (just above 3.5 GHz) (Verizon), and the new extended WiFi band (between 6-7 GHz).
A parking lot solar shelter kit that holds 32 panels might cost $6K. The 32, 320 watt panels ($400 each), might cost $12K, and assembly might be another $2K. That totals about $20K (before any credits) for providing 10 Kilowatts of power. In six hours of sun, it could charge a 60kW/hr battery, like the Leaf+.
That’s a lot of resiliency. And the electric car can be rented out.
ADD IT UP
A community solar charge station may provide 3-5 revenue sources:
(1) Car rental ($300/mo)
(2) Community Broadband Wireless ($300/mo)
(3) Rental of kiosk or mast space ($300/mo)
(4) Solar electricity purchased by power company ($100/mo)
(5) Electric car & bike charging (free)
Power can be provided to the neighborhood after an outage, while revenue from car/bike rental, and community wireless make it self-sustaining. And profitable.
The coronavirus relief package, passed in December 2020, includes $7 billion in funding for broadband internet access. That sum includes a new $3.2 billion program that will provide $50/mo to low-income families for broadband.
Congress created the $3.2 billion Emergency Broadband Benefit Program aimed at helping more low-income customers get access to broadband during the coronavirus pandemic, and the FCC describes how it works.
Frontier Communications filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April 2020. Ziply Fiber took over as local phone and internet provider for more than 100,000 Oregonians from Frontier. Ziply Fiber headquarters are in Kirkland, Washington.
DOE is the country’s primary source of funding for clean energy research as well as loan and grant programs that have spurred renewable energy.
There are lots of policy wonks at the State of Oregon, the Counties and Cities. Give them some credit. Tap into public and private expertise. Develop your own plan. It’s a free country. Here’s mine.
The US Energy Department believes community solar programs may be the quickest way to affordable solar power. The unique regulatory status of rural co-ops provides them with more wiggle room to adopt new financial strategies that could help speed solar adoption.
Forth is working with the Center for Sustainable Energy, Energetics, and the Clean Cities Coalition on a demonstration project for innovative charging technology and approaches for multi-unit dwellings (MUD) and residential curbside sites.
Volkswagen says, “By 2025 we will have 350 gigawatt hours worth of energy storage at our disposal through our electric car fleet. Between 2025 and 2030 this will grow to 1 terawatt hours worth of storage. That’s more energy than is currently generated by all the hydroelectric power stations in the world.
According to the FCC, 39% of Americans who live in rural populations don’t have broadband access. The FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund allocated $20.4 billion over ten years to bring broadband service to rural homes and small businesses that lack it. The $885.5 million SpaceX got in RDOF funding to subsidize internet service for more than 640,000 homes, over 10 years, works out to just under $138 in subsidies per customer, per year. So rural users might pay about $85/month instead of $99/month for a satellite link.
Millions in CARES Act funds have been received by the state of Oregon and are being allocated by the Oregon Legislative Assembly Joint Emergency Board to support broadband projects targeting unserved and underserved areas. Covid (CARES) monies can be targeted to education, especially rural broadband.
The map below identifies the areas where some of the nation’s largest phone companies accepted Phase II support from the FCC’s Connect America Fund to provide broadband and voice service over the next six years. Connect America Phase II support was targeted to price cap areas that are high-cost, but not extremely high-cost. Oregon’s CAP II deployments expects 10Mbps service to more than 41,000 rural high cost living units throughout Oregon.
Through CAF Phase II, the FCC provided funding to local telephone companies to provide broadband service in unserved or underserved areas. An area was classified as “eligible” if the average monthly cost-per-location for that census block was above the $52.50 funding benchmark but below a $198.60 extremely high cost threshold, and not served by an unsubsidized competitor, subsidized wireline competitor, or not subject to rural broadband experiments.
The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) being handed out by the FCC, goes to “unserved rural areas”. The Phase I RDOF auction actually resulted in $9.2 billion in subsidies, well below the $16 billion that had been set aside. The FCC’s RDOF winners will receive $9.2 Billion ($920 million per year x 10 years). The remaining $6.8 billion not allocated this round will be rolled into the future Phase II RDOF auction.
Here are Oregon’s RDOF winners. SpaceX (Starlink) is highlighted in Orange. Clearly, SpaceX will dominate as one of Oregon’s major rural broadband broadband pipes.
Oregon’s ten successful bidders collectively will get $212 million from the government to deliver affordable broadband to rural areas. Oregon winners included SpaceX ($58M), The Rural Electric Cooperative Consortium ($41.6M), Century Link ($41M), Grain Communications ($13.7M), NexTier Consortium ($11M), and Frontier Communications ($8.7M).
No other LEO satellite providers are getting the FCC funding. Hughes, a traditional satellite provider, got $1.27 million over 10 years to serve 3,678 locations in Rhode Island but did not get funding in any other states. Some 99.7% of these locations will be receiving broadband with speeds of at least 100/20 Mbps.
RDOF builds on the success of the CAF Phase II auction using reverse auctions in two phases. Nearly 400 entities qualified to bid in Phase 1 of the RDOF auction, which commenced on October 29th and finished in December, 2020.
THE DISH CONNECTION
DISH and Intel will build the nation’s first virtualized, open Radio Access Network (O-RAN) 5G network. They might be a good partner. Costs could be shared. They have to build their network from scratch. Dish spent $912 million on CBRS licenses alone, in 2020. Dish committed to building a standalone 5G broadband network available to 70% of the US population by June 2023, using Mavenir’s cloud-native open RAN software. It will supplement Dishes extensive 600 MHz licenses (20 Mhz) and mid-band AWS-4 (40 MHz).
DISH has signed agreements with four fiber vendors including Zayo for backhaul to connect its 5G network to 60 million Americans. Zayo’s data center in the Westin building would likely provide some of Dish’s backend for the Northwest. A licensee in the 3.7–3.98 GHz band (such as Verizon), may also be a good partner.
THE ADJACENT C BAND (3.7–3.98 GHz)
The new “C-Band” is adjacent to CBRS licenses. It was the largest FCC spectrum auction EVER, when it concluded in January of 2021, with the cellcos and Comcast spending more than $80 Billion on spectrum.
The C-band (3.7–3.98 GHz) will clear 280 MHz for 5G fixed wireless as soon as December 2021. Verizon is the biggest bidder in C-Band. Verizon will need a community mast for their C-Band and CBRS antennas as will Dish and T-Mobile. The A block consists of 100 megahertz (five 20-megahertz sub-blocks) from 3.7-3.8 GHz; that spectrum will be the first to be cleared, with a deadline of December 2021. The B block consists of 100 megahertz (five 20-megahertz) from 3.8-3.9 GHz) and the C block which makes up the final 80 megahertz. It’s slated to be cleared by December 2023.
A standard utility pole is about 40 ft high and buried 6 ft in the ground. Antennas at 600 MHz may not need to be that high and neither do “community” broadband antennas. The antenna can be by the charge station. Dish would like to avoid paying $1,000+ per month (x 20,000 locations) to tower operators like American Tower, Crown Castle or SBA. Could you generate another $300-$500 a month by renting space on a 40 ft mast? Possibly.
Facebook’s Evenstar program builds 4G/5G Open RAN radio reference designs.
Starlink’s public beta is $99 a month plus $500 up front for the dish with data speeds from 50Mbps to 150Mbps, for “unlimited” service. In Washington state, Starlink, the SpaceX internet satellite service, has been deployed to rural homes, a remote tribe, and emergency responders. In Texas, SpaceX will provide Internet service to 45 families in a Texas school district in early 2021.
For remote sites, where fiber just isn’t economically viable, the SpaceX Starlink backhaul would likely be the most viable, cost/effective, high-speed, low-latency, solution. It could provide high speed backhaul (above 100 Mbps) for a local CBRS community antenna.
Wireless Broadband at Community Charge Stations
Neighborhood charge stations support neighborhood broadband. Wireless broadband is cheaper than fiber. It connects to phones, tablets, laptops, cars, trains, and buses. There are some 331 municipal networks in the US.
The new CBRS band uses “free” spectrum at 3.5 GHz. CBRS, unlike WiFi, can provide LTE-like voice and data to phones with a range similar to cellular. It can provide broadband connectivity for everyone. Equitably. Even licensed cellular operators can share the cost and operation of community antennas.
CommScope and Nokia antennas combine both cellular and CBRS frequencies. Satellite can provide the backhaul. Anywhere. Local power or cellular service not required. That’s resiliency. Self-funded.
Communications after a subduction zone earthquake may be nearly impossible. Solar-powered wireless (with satellite backhaul) can be faster and cheaper than cellular. Everything in one container. Easily shipped. No installation. Self-contained. Self-supporting.
Charge stations make electric transit practical in both rural and urban neighborhoods where many people live in apartments or condos without access to car charging facilities. These community charge stations can also provide resiliency. Bird sells scooters to entrepreneurs at cost, then takes a 20 percent cut from the ride revenue. Tesla may carshare as well, taking 30% off the top.
Fuel and maintenance costs for an e-bus are much lower than for diesel buses, but school buses only run in the morning and afternoon and basically that’s it. They can cost $200,000 instead of $100,000. But they have a 100-150 kilowatt-hour battery. With 5-6 buses available, you have a nice power reserve. Same deal with fleets of cars. Nuvve, out of San Diego, ties them to the grid.
Making Fast DC Charging Profitable
A 50-100 kWatt DC fast charger currently costs around $36K. That means it would have to make at least $1000/month revenue to pay for itself in 3 years. How? You’d need to make a $6 profit on six different fill-ups daily ($36 x 30 days). That means a 20 kW charge (costing the operator $2) might have a user fee of $8 per 20kW charge. But neighborhood charge stations would ALSO qualify for SIGNIFICANT grants and subsidies. That should cover the slow ramp-up to 6 users/day and the network operator’s cut.
A wall-mounted 30kW DC Charger can add 100 miles in one hour, compared to 25 miles on a typical 7kW AC charger. An RFID card reader and Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP) management system provides billing, user identification, and power load management.
The standardized OCPP protocol works for any charging station. Different charging station hardware – made by ABB, Aerovironment, Bosch, Eaton, and Siemens for example – can connect to different managing networks – like those run by ChargePoint, ECOtality, eVgo and Greenlots.
Solar pays for itself. With a shared electric car or bike, vehicle charging and community wireless, the whole thing might be paid off in 3-5 years instead of 12 years. Shared electric vehicles could generate $200-$500 per month. Public 25 Mbps community wireless, at $15/month x 30 subscribers generates another $450/month, fees for kiosk and mast space adds another $200-$400/month.
Community charge stations could generate $1000-$1500/month. It won’t make anyone rich, but it would likely pay for itself while providing resiliency and real community benefits. Those benefits include free community charging, free community Wi-Fi, low-cost mobile broadband, low-cost car/bike rental, and power resiliency.
REBATES AND GRANTS
There are so many grants, rebates and funding available for EV infrastructure, it’s hard to keep track of them all. Here’s a sample:
➤ The Washington State Department of Commerce awarded $9.8 million in EV charging grants for 14 projects in cities across the state. These grants follow an initial round of 37 applications totaling $25 million in requests for funding.
➤ The Bonneville Environmental Foundation and similar institutions provide grants for projects such as these. BEF markets green power products to public utilities, such as Renewable Energy Certificates.
➤ Forth’s Fair Financing Pilot Program sponsors rideshare programs in the Portland Metro area.
➤ The PGE Drive Change Fund provides financial support to community organizations, nonprofits and businesses to advance electric vehicle adoption.
➤ The Volkswagen Mitigation Trust Fund alone could install more than 100 charge stations in Oregon.
➤ The Portland Green Energy Fund is delivering $44 to $61 million in new annual funding for clean energy homes and jobs in Portland. The program is now offering its first $8.6 million in climate action grants. It taxes large retailers, but is reserved for communities of color and those with low income. Apply for a Portland Green Energy Fund Grant today!
➤ Energy Trust of Oregon (Annual Report) provides support and incentives for residential energy efficiency and solar energy but their mission does not include climate change or social justice. They provide a stable source of funding since Oregon’s Residential Energy Tax Credit (RETC) program expired in 2017. Energy Trust has installed low-cost ductless heat pumps in homes in Cully.
Many foundations fund shared solar and other “green” community projects.
The Oregon Senate passed HB 2618 on June 29th, 2019 – a BIG win for solar rebates in Oregon. Rebates will begin being issued in January 2020. There will be approximately $1.5 million over two years for rebates. For the Oregon Solar + Storage Rebate Program (HB 2618), the caps are $30,000 for solar electric and $15,000 for an energy storage system, for low-income service providers.
- Residential low-income projects can access a rebate of up to $5,000 or 60% of the project,
- Other residential projects can access a rebate of up to $5,000 or 40% of the project, whichever is less
- The cost of the system is the “net cost” which subtracts other incentives – such as Energy Trust or local incentives – a project might receive. However, federal tax credits are not taken into account for the net cost of a project.
- If solar is paired with storage, a low-income storage project can access a rebate of up to $2500, or 60% of the cost of the storage system, whichever is less
- If solar is paired with storage on other residential projects, the storage system is eligible for up to $2500 or 40% of the cost of the storage system, whichever is less
- A commercial project for a low-income service provider is eligible for up to $30,000 or 50% of the cost of the system, whichever is less; if the project is paired with storage, the project is eligible for $15,000 or 60% of the cost of the storage system
Oregon DOE has developed a list of approved contractors for the work. Rebates should reduce the cost of the system by half, right off the top. When you factor in rebates on an electric vehicle ($7500-$2500), rebates on solar, rebates on storage, grants on community wireless, and commercial partnerships on car sharing and bike sharing, the out of pocket expenses should come close to absolute zero.
A Self-Funded Resilient Network
An investment in a solar array may take more than 10 years to pay back when electricity is sold back to the power company at wholesale rates. But revenue from an EV charge station would increase income dramatically. A (shared) electric car can also act as a community battery. Partners like bike/car sharing benefit as well.
➤ A 6K solar system might cost $12-14,000 but only “makes” about $800/year and takes 12-18 years to back back if the power is sold back to the utility around $0.10 per KW/hr.
➤ But if that same solar system could be used to charge electric vehicles (retailing at $.30-$.50 per kW/hr), that 6 KWatt installation might be paid off in 1/3rd the time.
➤ Portland’s EVRides sells used Leafs and battery packs.
Using 4 hours of full sun each day, a 6kWh solar array x 4 hours would generate an average of 24 kWhs per day. Times 30 days, that’s about 750 kWhrs per month. At 10 cents per kWhr, that’s only $75 a month income/credit. The average solar system payback time in Oregon can be much shorter, with revenue from car charging and community broadband.
Solar’s cost, currently around $1 per watt, continues to decline despite Chinese tariffs. Oregon’s Residential Energy Tax Credit (RETC), sunset at the end of the 2017, and cut the cost of a typical rooftop system by as much as $6,000, but it’s being offset by cheaper, more efficient panels.
The Federal Investment Tax Credit allows you to deduct 30 percent of the cost of installing a solar energy system from your federal taxes, with 2019 the last year when you get a full 30%. It gets reduced to just 10% in 2022 for commercial installations.
A self-funding, resilient network, may require more income to attract investors. That’s the basis for this proposal. We believe an Electric Vehicle charge station, a broadband wireless hub, a coffee shop or a car/bike share businesses like Lyft and Uber could generate revenue, provide a real public service, and save everyone money.
Mapdwell is the most advanced rooftop-solar mapping tool available, showing the solar potential for all Portlanders in cooperation with Energy Trust. Net Zero buildings run 100 percent on renewable energy. Resilient Cities can adapt and transform after disasters.
Microgrids at California firestations are designed to provide at least three hours of backup power during utility outage. One fire station, with electric power from solar and battery storage, provided for about 13 hours. Solar/microgrids for electric school buses and delivery vehicles might save money and provide community resiliency.
Many inexpensive shipping containers are ten or twenty feet long and 8 feet high. The OffGridBox is a 6’x6’x6’ steel container, with 12 solar panels (3.36kw), 15 kWh of battery storage and a water purification system.
The OffGridBox costs about $15,000 and comes with a BuyBack Program. Eight, SunPower 400 watt panels (made in Hillsboro) should produce 3.2 kWatts or an average of about 12 KWatt/hours per day. That may top off an older Leaf electric car. A 3 kW system costs about $3/Watt ($9K), less 30% federal tax credit, or $6K. A used EV might cost another $5K-$10k.
A Community PrepHub could supplement the containers’ self-sustaining electric and communications gear, providing water, hand-held radios, first aid supplies, and other post-earthquake resources.
DISCLAIMER: The author is not a licensed solar installer. Whenever possible, actual products and services are linked, although this paper does not recommend specific technologies. This paper overviews current options, with rapid marketplace change expected. Professional advice should be sought.
Oregon’s Legislative Environment
Oregon is one of 22 states in the US Climate Alliance. Oregon Lawmakers plan to curb carbon emissions with the 2019 Clean Energy Jobs bill. In 2016, Oregon’s Legislature passed a landmark energy bill, called the Oregon Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Plan to provide 25 percent of renewable electricity by 2025.
Oregon’s renewable standard will require 50 percent of customer’s electricity to be from renewable resources by 2040, using cap-and-trade to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. The Tradable Instruments for Global Renewables (TIGR) is an online platform for tracking and trading Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs).
The 2019 Leaf+ features 200 mile range, 100 kW charging, and Vehicle 2 Grid. The car can act as a community battery. Nissan’s No Charge to Charge program provides free 30-minute DC Fast charges and 60-minute Level 2 charges for 24 months.
Ford’s E-Transit van ($46K) works as a mobile power source with 2.4 kW of exportable power to plug in power tools or other devices.
A 12-kwh lithium-ion battery pack on the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is the only plug-in hybrid with a CHAdeMO quick-charge port that can act as a community battery. The 2019 Outlander PHEV goes about 25 miles on its battery before the car switches to gas.
According to Navigant Consulting, global carsharing services are expected to be $6.2 billion business in 2020, with over 12 million members worldwide and is poised to grow at a CAGR of over 24% between 2020 and 2026.
Low or moderate income Oregon residents are eligible for rebates of $2,500 on used electric vehicles (EVs) and $5,000 on a new EV, from the state. That way, money from fuel (electricity) made in the state, stays in the state.
The transition to electrified transportation is accelerating rapidly, with half of 2040 car sales expected to be electric.
The Charging Network
ChargePoint, the nation’s largest charging network, has around 60,000 charging spots in 43 states, but only about 1,000 are Level 3 (Fast Charging, in 30 minutes or so). The EVgo network has more than 1,100 public fast chargers running in 66 metropolitan areas across the U.S., while Electrify America, is planning to install more than 2,000 DC Fast Chargers at nearly 500 sites across 40 states.
Electrify America may combine charging with local energy storage using Tesla’s Powerpacks which store 50 kW/hrs or more in their industrial-size batteries. A simple three-phase power supply of 43 kW (or even 22 kW) is enough to support a dual-head 150 kW charger. That adds 125 miles of range in 15 minutes when supplemented with a static battery.
Many Level 2 chargers are free to use, but you’ll have to pay for Fast Level 3 charging. JuiceNet predicts when EV owners will charge their vehicles, enabling the utility to adjust demand/response. That’s going to be a necessity when EV penetration grows above 20%, in just a couple of years.
A public fast charging (Level 3) station will charge most EVs some 80% in 30 minutes. Fast chargers make it practical for apartment/condo dwellers (such as those on Hayden Island), to “fill-up” while shopping.
It can also make money. Electricity costs $.10 per kw/hr but retails for $.40 kw/hr. Making a $6 profit on an $8 (20 kW) fill-up, might generate $25-$50/day with 4-8 fast charges a day or a projected $1000/month in profit. A fast (Level 3) charger might pay for itself in 2-3 years. Before rebates.
A Level 2 charger provides community resiliency. A 6-8 k/watt solar array might charge an EV with 6 hours of sun if grid power is lost. A system like Solar Edge uses “power optimizers” on every panel which prevents shaded panels from reducing the power transfer of the entire array. It still requires a string inverter at the end, but it’s cheaper than using AC microinverters on every panel…and it’s more efficient.
Making EV Charging Simple
An app like PlugShare shows ALL the charge stations close to you.
Different companies, such as Blink, ChargePoint, Greenlots, Electrify America and EVgo, manage more than 400 not-always-reliable Portland-area chargers. The EVConnect app works on different brands and may be ideal for multi-unit dwellings. An Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP) allows communication between charging stations and central system, regardless of vendors
PGE has seven Electric Avenue locations, each with four DC fast chargers and two Level 2 chargers. They’re currently operating in:
– Downtown Portland: SW Salmon between SW 1st and 2nd Ave.,
– Milwaukie: Intersection of SE McLoughlin Blvd. & SE Jackson St.
– Hillsboro: 2105-2643 SE Tualatin Valley Hwy.
– Eastport Plaza: 4000 SE 82nd Ave.
– Salem: 900 Court St. NE
– Wilsonville: SW Wilsonville Road and Memorial Dr.
– Beaverton: SW Canyon Road and SW Broadway St.
EV Connect is the leading provider of open standards-based EV charging software. The Chargeway app works with PGE’s Electric Avenue and allows EV owners to manage accounts from multiple providers. The EZ-Charge card can use a variety of charging networks including; Aerovironment, Blink, ChargePoint, EVgo, and Greenlots.
West Coast Green Highway
The West Coast Green Highway stretches the 1,350 mile length of Interstate 5, through Washington, Oregon, and California with public charging stations for electric vehicles. The fast charge technology allows drivers to re-charge vehicles like the Nissan Leaf in under 30 minutes. Each location also includes Level 2 equipment to re-charge most plug in electric vehicles in 4 hours or so.
Fast Charge Network for Truckers
The West Coast Clean Transit Corridor Initiative will explore how best to provide EV charging on Interstate 5 for heavy-duty electric trucks. The “fast-charging” stations could cost between $15,000 and $90,000 each, providing up to one megawatt of power.
Statewide Public Service Radio Network
The Stonehenge Tower, above OHSU on Healy Heights, is near the the Council Crest Park tower which houses the city’s public safety communications.
Exium, a Palo Alto, company has a “Secure 5G network as a service,” for “secure and private end-to-end connectivity.” Using community-based CBRS with Starlink backhaul, the State of Oregon could have a statewide, broadband network that worked after an earthquake at essentially no cost.
I would argue this is not rocket science.
The utility of 24/7 electricity and broadband could take different forms in rural areas. The goal of better community services at lower cost remains the same, with broadband wireless access perhaps the prime benefit. The value of electric charge stations in rural eastern Oregon would likely be minimal. But a container, some panels and an old Leaf might power a pump station and provide broadband service.
Solar-powered, rural charge stations can also feed 600MHz/3.5 GHz masts for Dish, Verizon and T-Mobile, as well as supply ATSC 3.0 television repeaters. ATSC 3 can utilize “single frequency networks”, which means a local TV translator on the hill can be repeated on main street. It improves TV reception rather than creating local interference. ATSC 3 is basically a long-range, broadband pipe to the home. Especially helpful for educational access to the home.
Today, more than 9 million students lack broadband internet at home. Chromebooks with CBRS sim chips may provide a cost/effective solution. It works in Utah school districts.
The Oregon Legislative Emergency Board in 2020 set aside $20 million of federal CARES Act money to fund rural broadband improvements.
Although not directly related to broadband access, ATSC 3.0 will support mobile television, 3D television, 4K UHD, a dozen SD broadcast channels and data broadcasting, all on one 6 MHz LPTV channel. The FCC’s ATSC 3.0 Report & Order defines how the new standard should be implemented. The new transmission standard for television will be able to deliver more, better local content; assist with distance education; help close digital divides; and increase public safety features.
Television stations in Oregon include more than a dozen full powered stations but most are small “translators (Wikipedia). Oregon’s rural television translators provide an extended broadband reach, although it’s just one-way. OPB had 54 analog translators in rural Oregon and now there are dozens of DTV translators throughout the state.
The FCC auction of UHF frequencies a few years ago meant repacking the TV band into channels 36 and below. That freed up the higher UHF channels for cellular use. Dish and T-Mobile bought a lot of those (once) TV frequencies. Today, local broadcasters and their rural translator networks have to use those lower 35 channels. Television stations however, may soon get more bang for their buck with a new digital TV standard…ATSC 3.0.
It’s not just about television anymore. Your phone is a TV, with a menu of 100 stored programs, broadcast overnight. Public TV stations could support regular TV as well as point-to-multipoint content delivery.
ARK Multicasting, one of the largest owners of low-power TV stations in the U.S. is asking the FCC to allow the use of federal funds to subsidize the purchase of ATSC 3.0 devices to allow students to use an LPTV’s IP multicasting feed for distance learning.
ATSC 3.0 will allow broadcasters to offer enhanced public safety capabilities, such as geo-targeting, to tailor information to particular communities. It can be received on mobile devices and Emergency Alerts (even pdfs) can be stored on your phone. State-wide broadband delivery. Over-the-air.
Evoca TV, a new pay-TV service in Boise, blends ATSC 3.0 on 2 LPTV channels with traditional Internet connections to compete with incumbent cable. It offers local broadcast TV feeds plus dozens of other TV channels for about $50/month. They use 1.5kW Hitachi-Comark transmitters for their Boise LPTV stations, KCBB-LD and KSBE-LD. Could a rural EV charge station deliver broadband as well as multi-channel television? Why not. OPB consists of five full-power television stations, dozens of VHF and UHF translators, and over 20 radio stations.
You don’t need a 300 ft tower for a LPTV ATSC 3.0 transmitter. You can place multiple LPTV transmitters in the same town, using the exact same UHF frequency. They’re synched together to avoid interference. This approach is called a Single Frequency Network (SFN). It excels at broadcasting digital data to cars and trucks as well as mobile devices. It boosts signal strength (and bit rate). A EV charge station network may be the ideal platform for SFNs. ATSC 3.0 could also use the CBRS link for back-haul, enabling VOD. It will happen. Why? Because ATSC 3.0 delivers bits to users for 1/1000th the cost of cellular.
Charge Station Summary
Privately financed charged stations such as Blink, Charge Point and EVgo, WILL provide charge stations for urban areas. But these charge stations are tied directly into the power grid. They have no solar resiliency. They CANNOT provide power after an event like an earthquake.
This proposal suggests neighborhood charge stations (costing $25K-$50K) should include solar panels (for resiliency) and be owned and operated by NEIGHBORHOODS. Community-owned, solar-powered charge stations provide both community resiliency (after an earthquake) and community empowerment. An electric vehicle provides the battery. Sunshine can recharge it.
Community Charging Container Components
1. Electric Vehicle charge stations fit in one 20 ft container. It utilizes 6 KW of solar, battery storage, and Level 2 or Fast Charging for EVs. The solar panels and inverter are connected to a $1300 ClipperCreek, 7.7 kW Level 2 station (or similar) that can charge two vehicles simultaneously. It automatically splits power between two vehicles providing up to 16 amps each when both vehicles are charging or 32 amps into one car.
The SolarEdge Single Phase Inverter ($1300) combines 2 power sources (PV and grid) for faster car charging at less cost. It connects the electric vehicle to both solar panels and the power grid.
The Solar Edge EV-charging inverter, combining grid and solar power, enables community resiliency. Revenue from private car charging allows these hubs to be paid off much more quickly then grid-tied “community solar” (at 10 cents per Kwatt/hour from the local utility). Resilient. Cheap. Federal tax credits pay up to 30 percent of the cost. The Tesla Solar Inverter converts DC power from solar to AC power for home consumption. It’s designed to integrate with the Tesla Powerwall and comes in 3.8 kW and 7.6 kW models.
2. Community Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum provides community broadband for a radius of 1-5 miles using 3.5 GHz — available on phones this year. One 20 ft container, with a utility pole mast, delivers communications resiliency. Shared spectrum at 3.5 GHz is the law. CBRS Release 3 supports 5G in the shared 3.5 GHz band.
An outdoor Ruckus 910 3.5 GHz radio costs about $2,500. A $5,000 package might include the tower and controller electronics.
How fast is CBRS? A single 20 MHz channel can deliver 400 Mbps. Using 4×4 MIMO, with a total bandwidth of 60 MHz, a client device that supports two or three streams would easily top 1 Gbps or more. Far cheaper than fiber to the home…and mobile.
CellCos plan to use “free” 3.5 GHz spectrum for “5G” but will utilize Licensed Assisted Access (LAA) which REQUIRES users to pay for regular cellular service. MuLTEfire is more like WiFi. You don’t have to be a cellular subscriber. Anyone can put up a 3.5 GHz antenna and provide LTE. It will take a few years before phones have 3.5 GHz built-in (like WiFi). But support is here now in some phones and “unlicensed” LTE service is expected to roll out in 3Q 2019.
3. Bike/scooter sharing, funded by Uber or Lyft (Motivate), could be housed at the Hub. Bikes and scooters can be tracked with the 900 MHz wireless link. A coffee shop or bike share provides additional revenue…and Last Mile transportation.
4. Electric transit could save thousands every month. On demand or scheduled. Why burn money up? A McKinsey analysis found shared “seamless” mobility could accommodate 30% more traffic while cutting travel time by 10% by 2030. Lyft will allow drivers to rent electric vehicles using their Green Mode. Can autonomous cars provide COVID-Proof Transit? Probably, yes.
5. Personal Tracking
Tracking and monitoring things (like pets or meters), can now be done inexpensively, over a 5-10 mile range, in the latest version of MuLTEfire (using both 3.5 GHz and 900 MHz). Similarly, LoRa devices, using the unlicensed 900 MHz band, can track people and things at virtually no cost (and without cellular fees).
BLiNQ Networks can provide CBRS/OnGo gear to ISPs as part of Microsoft’s Airband Initiative which uses TV white spaces for extremely long range (and IoT tracking). One white space antenna might cover hundreds of square miles.
Vehicle to Grid
If grid power is lost or unavailable, solar power kicks in. The FERC 22 specification describes interconnection, reliability and safety issues for microgrids to connect to the main grid. A single 13.5 kWatt/hr Tesla Powerwall can supply 500 watts X 20 hrs or 10 kWatt/hrs. That’s our working power budget. No A/C, 100 watts for satellite, 200w for CBRS, 200w for lights & misc gadgets. Is it a stingy power budget? Yes.
Leaf’s CHAdeMO fast charging remains easier to find than CCS (Combo) used in other long-range hatchbacks like the Chevy Bolt EV or Hyundai Kona Electric. The Nissan RE-LEAF features weatherproof plug sockets mounted directly to the exterior of the vehicle, which enable 110- to 230-volt devices to be powered from the car’s high-capacity lithium-ion battery.
An electric car might eliminate the need for batteries in the container. Electric cars provide more battery capacity, more flexibly, and they’re relatively cheap. A used Leaf costs $5,000-$10,000. If you dedicate 30kW/hrs of a 60 kW/hr car battery to running a building, that’s 10 hours at 3k Watts per hour. A 7-Eleven can use energy from a Leaf to keep the lights on during a blackout.
A used 30kW/hr Nissan Leaf ($10,000) would provide twice the power of a 13kW/hr Tesla Powerwall ($7,500) AND could be rented through Turo, generating $330/month income and paying itself off in 3 years. No gas. Arcimoto has a $12,000 three-wheeled electric vehicle.
Hitachi’s V2X Charger and Princeton Power Systems provide bi-directional charging that can recharge a car or put that energy back in the building or grid. The Alliance Center in Denver partners uses a a Nissan LEAF with a Fermata Energy bidirectional charger to power its six-story office building using V2B.
Honda will include V2G in its new electric vehicles as well as inexpensive (Level 2) EV chargers (see below).
When the building produces more solar power than it needs, the surplus is stored in the car battery. The stored energy can then be discharged back into the grid and make some money. Nissan Energy Share continuously monitors a building’s electrical loads, looking for opportunities to periodically draw on the LEAF’s battery.
A vehicle with a 200-mile range using a 60kW battery could run a typical house, including air conditioning, for two to three days. With 4 hours of good sunlight daily, a 15 KWatt solar array might deliver 60kW hours back into the car’s battery. An Air Force Base is testing V2G in a 34-vehicle fleet with a total battery capacity of 996 kWh.
That’s power for driving, utility buy-back, or for emergencies. Self-contained charge stations, located near community centers and apartments, could provide charge stations where not otherwise available and provide community emergency power. A free benefit.
Electric Vehicle Rental
Rent the car. A Nissan LEAF e+, hooked to a 100 kW charger, can fill-up in about 30 minutes.
The Tesla Network will “enable your car to make money for you when you aren’t using it.” The car’s default key is a phone app which connects to the car with bluetooth and unlocks when you walk near with a paired phone. This enables temporary keys to be sent out to people who rent the vehicle.
The Broadband Wireless Network
Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) is a new 150 MHz wide band, centered around 3.5 GHz. It’s like WiFi (free spectrum), but uses LTE or 5G for voice and data. The FCC has approved initial commercial deployments by Amdocs, CommScope, Federated Wireless, Google, and Sony.
Dish is assembling a 5G network powered by an open RAN. That means vendors can compete for each of the radio pieces and the basestation is just a rack of servers. That approach will be used by CBRS vendors as well. OnGo is the CRBS branding, with support from Intel.
CBRS LTE service can be deployed quickly for a better tenant experience, and can be used to automate building security and energy management. It works on phones. MOST phones will support CBRS Band 48 in a year, much like most all smartphones support WiFi today.
This resilient broadband network can cost/effectively piggyback on neighborhood solar carports while providing essential services.
The shared spectrum technology, which is just rolling out, may be run by third party hosts like Amazon, Google or others in a public/private partnership. Equal access provisions insure competition. A community broadband business agreement might resemble the agreement between Biketown (the city) & Nike (the sponsor).
Municipal fiber would cost consumers 2-5 times more for the same 100 Mbps–1 Gbps performance…with no mobile access.
It’s basic economics. Wireless is more affordable than fiber. Digital equity manifest.
Sprint’s 1 Gbps LTE uses 2-3 channels (40-60 GHz total bandwidth in their 2.5 GHz band). The initial broadband wireless service would utilize a cloud-managed WiFi hotspot, 5G Hub or Sprint’s 5G hotspot which is actually a 4G “relay”. T-Mobile claims it would deliver “100-Mbits” to two thirds of the US if it merges with Sprint.
5G Release 16 (finalised by March 2020) will feature standalone 3.5 GHz option with voice over LTE/5G. It would be an ideal platform since phones wouldn’t need a traditional cellular operator to provide both voice and data to the end user.
Australia auctioned off their 3.5 GHz spectrum for 5G. The USA provides it free. Motorola’s MOTOTRBO Nitro uses the 3.5 Ghz (CBRS) band for LTE voice and data. They run it, you manage it (with a tablet). Motorola’s SLN 1000 walkie talkie is the first CBRS handheld radio. But CBRS will be included in many smart phones in a year or two. Just like Wi-Fi.
We’re focused on off-the-shelf CBRS gear. Phones like Pixel, Motorola, Samsung and LG already have 3.5 GHz built-in, and mobile hotspots with 3.5GHz backhaul are also available off the shelf. The Galaxy S10 has full support for CBRS (band 48) across the product line.
Some 400 megahertz of mid-band spectrum may be available – nearly the combined capacity of the top three carriers. Google’s Spectrum Access System (SAS) costs $2.25 per residence per month, but it only applies to fixed wireless.
Shared spectrum CBRS gear may run $5-$10K, compared to traditional gear on towers which can cost $150K. A 2 year return on investment is expected from RuralStar Lite, a traditional $20K licensed rural cellular solution that uses satellite backhaul. Canonical’s OpenStack open source software eliminates network components under the tower. Software applications run the cellular system on generic hardware in a datacenter.
Satellite Backbones from ViaSat 2 & 3
Satellites work when cellular is down. High throughput satellites today provide cheaper broadband than any cellular plan. Viasat is working with Facebook for Community WiFi. ViaSat’s business hotspot services can manage WiFi hotspots and brand your Wi-Fi splash page using their satellite business internet for backhaul. Done.
Hughes was awarded $28.3 million to bring satellite broadband to 72,163 locations across New York. Of the $28.3 million, $14.8 million comes from the New York program, and the rest comes from the FCC’s CAF program.Viasat won $122.5 million in free government (CAF-II) funding for Rural Broadband.
ViaSat is providing Community Broadband thoughout Mexico. The State of Oregon could do the same.
Cellular is MORE expensive and LESS resilient. It’s really very simple…broadband data supplied by satellite (100 GB/month) costs about $100/month. That’s cheaper than only 25 GB/month of broadband data supplied by cellular ($50-100/mo). Satellite does NOT depend on terrestrial networks. It works after an earthquake and can be solar powered. Cellular isn’t resilient and costs more money.
U.S. GEO satellite broadband providers like Hughes Jupiter-2 (97 West) and ViaSat-2 (70 West) both have massive new geostationary satellites launching soon. Hughes Jupiter-3 will deliver half a terabit per second while ViaSat-3 expects to deliver around 1 Terabits/sec. But geosynch satellites are designed to operate for 15 years, making the platforms obsolete within a few years, notes SpaceNews. In addition, GEO latency can be a show stopper.
LEO Backbone Networks
Proposed new LEO internet satellites such as SpaceX Starlink, OneWeb and Telesat and Amazon’s planned consellations all start in 2020 (with Starlink). The 331-pound OneWeb satellites are designed “to provide internet to everybody, everywhere” and be deployed in a constellation orbiting at 745 miles. It eliminates finicky pointing and latency issues.
Instead of one, $250 million satellite, OneWeb and SpaceX plan hundreds or thousands of satellites in Low Earth Orbit with lower latency. The SpaceX Starlink would have thousands of satellites at various heights with the best coverage at latitudes between 47° and 52°, north and south. That’s us.
Cheap electronically steered flat panels are the key breakthrough here. The 19-inch SpaceX dish does NOT require professional installation. Customer can easily install the service themselves. Other flat panel terminals are available through ALCAN, Isotropic and Viasat with $200-$500 flat panel antennas. Kymeta, Phasor and ThinKom are pricier.
The SpaceX Starlink constellation is here. Now. It works. It’s got RDOF subsidies. It can provide backbone connections to remote community nodes. Start with one container per county (36). Expand the service to parks, schools and neighborhoods. The $20K-$50K unit cost is less than one patrol car. They’re designed to be self-funded and make money.
Let Amazon Do It
Amazon Home Internet delivered by their Kuiper LEO System is another possibility. Think about it. They’re building a LEO satellite network, their AWS servers run CBRS nodes, and they’ve already got the home wired with Alexa and FireTV. Everything. Direct to home.
Another possible option for broadband backhaul could be high-flying drones. They can provide spotbeams direct to phones. Will these high-flying drones prove practical? Who knows.
LOON, a Google company, uses balloons for Internet connectivity. The two companies are joining forces. Satellites CANNOT (generally) connect directly to mobile phones, they just provide backhaul. But everyone under the radius of a flying basestation benefits. But CBRS on the ground can beat an expensive Satphone or a (non-existent) flying wing for most people.
Starlink service should be fully operational in Oregon by 2021. By that time both the 3.5 GHz basestations and consumer devices will be mass market items. Starlink provides broadband backhaul. CBRS provides local cellular connectivity with a radius of several miles. Local power or not. Local cellular service or not. Free Wi-Fi and low-cost CBRS community broadband.
Geosynch satellite have latencies of 600ms or more, while OneWeb has latencies around 30ms, just a bit higher than a typical cable system. A Cloud-RAN typically needs latencies around 75ms. Could satellite replace fiber to the tower? Telesat successfully demonstrated that Low Earth Orbit satellites can provide effective backhaul for 5G networks with (round trip latency) of 18-40 milliseconds.
In 2021, plugging remote 3.5 GHz basestations into low-latency, LEO satellite backbones like OneWeb or SpaceX Starband, may be a reasonable alternative to fiber. Cellular service not required. It’s Community Broadband.
If LEO satellite proves impractical for a direct link to the neighborhood hub, then we may use an EdgeMicro data center in a shipping container on a hilltop location like the Stonehenge Tower on Council Crest. The Portland-area Starlink Hub (with more than a dozen satellite antennas) is located in Kalama, WA. That might be a good place for a container-based data center. One hop.
Open Open Open
Cellular providers use a standard protocol, CPRI (common public radio interface), between RF radios on the tower to the basestation on the ground. The O-RAN Alliance takes CPRI to the next level, so an operator can combine different suppliers. It runs on a rack of generic processors or over cloud services like Amazon’s AWS, not on a base station sitting under the tower.
OpenRAN disaggregates the components of the network, giving greater choice and competition between suppliers. OpenRAN, from vendors like Mavenir, is compatible with 4G and 5G services and sits within the Telecom Infra Project using a software-centric approach using commoditized hardware. The aim is to boost interoperability between equipment from multiple vendors. Parallel Wireless claims its OpenRAN kit can reduce OPEX by a third and macro cell gear by half. No vendor lock-in. Intel is a major backer of the initiative.
Cloud-native 5G “basestations” can be anywhere. That’s what a Cloud RAN is all about. Vendors running “5G” software include IBM/Red Hat, F5 and VMware. The “software basestation” eliminates electronics at the base of neighborhood towers.
Open software integrates subscriber management and billing into a common platform at the data center. An independent vendor would generally manage and operate the system for multiple carriers. Free spectrum, shared infrastructure. That’s why it’s cheap.
The Facebook-led Telecom Infra Project uses off-grid power. An Open Network can be managed by Facebook, Google or Amazon. Canonical’s OpenStack provides 4G/5G service via software applications running on generic hardware.
Here’s the thing. Microsoft Azure, Google and Amazon Web Services, pioneered container software called Kubernetes. The basestation is software in a datacenter that can run 5G networks anywhere.
Smartphones battled Telcos for control over app stores some 12 years ago. Telcos policed the “walled garden” on flip-phones, controlling pricing and content. With the smart phone platform, Apple and Google broke out. They freed everybody.
Google extracted a 2007 pledge from Verizon in the 700 MHz C Block auction for an “open platform” that “shall not deny, limit, or restrict the ability of their customers to use the applications of their choice.” AT&T paid almost twice as much for 700 MHz spectrum in the A&B Blocks simply so they could avoid the “open platform” provisions and exert complete control over what apps were available and how much they cost.
Ironically, one year later, AT&T’s iPhone became a monster hit. That happened only after AT&T seceded to Apple’s demands for control of the app store. Verizon soon followed with the Android app store, and were well positioned to succeed with 22 MHz of “cheap”, 700 MHz spectrum in the C Block. Dish owns the 700 MHz “E” block and AT&T added the “D” block for “FirstNet“, their shared spectrum used by both commercial users and public service users.
FirstNet was allocated $7 Billon by Congress to develop the 10 Mhz “D” block and folded it into an existing 12 Mhz block used for public service radio traffic, for a total of 22 MHz. First responders can take over that band in an emergency (any band, really). FirstNet has been almost 20 years in the making.
No carrier has since messed with the blueprint for the “Open Handset Alliance, now used daily in 3 billion smartphones. It’s instructive. Carriers were apoplectic over “app stores” and clueless about its potential. They nearly killed their golden goose. Community LTE, enabled by MuLTEfire, puts carriers on notice. Be competitive or die.
The ability to support both licensed cellular channels and 3.5 GHz is key to ensuring full 5G coverage. Commercial carriers can lease space on the community mast. That’s more revenue for the community hub and savings for the cellcos.
TV White Space for Rural Communities
The FCC approved TV White Spaces for broadband communications. The FCC says 92 percent of Americans have access to broadband. Microsoft believed TV white spaces are a viable solution.
NEWS FLASH: The Five-Year-Old ‘White Spaces’ Docket has been Terminated By FCC. The selling of channels above Channel 50 to cellular operators and the potential of ATSC 3.0 in LPTV killed it. BLiNQ Networks planned to offer CBRS/OnGo gear to ISPs as part of Microsoft’s Airband Initiative which uses TV white spaces.
Combining low frequency TV band, centered around the 600 MHZ bands (from Dish), along with high frequency (3.5 GHz) may deliver meaningful broadband (25 Mbps) more cost/effectively than current cellular or satellite solutions. Why isn’t it the law that every rural school in the state has a $25,000 container delivering community broadband?
It would pay for itself. Wouldn’t it? You tell me, I’m not the expert here. I’m just pointing out new opportunities for sustainability and resiliency. It’s AVAILABLE NOW. A window of opportunity exists with the Federal Tax Credit and Portland’s Community Solar program.
You Bet Your Life
Pop quiz. Do you believe Statewide Oregon Emergency Management will provide broadband to citizens after a major earthquake? The magic words are CBRS, SpaceX, ATSC 3.0…and clock.
These technologies move at Enterprise speed. They’re inevitable. They’re here now. Why wait? Turnkey community wireless solution might use Federated Wireless’ spectrum controller; an Ericsson, Nokia or Ruckus radio; a network mobile core from Athonet; and Amazon’s cloud IoT platform. An outdoor radio with a maximum EIRP of 50 Watts delivers high gain and good range. ExteNet, a leading provider of Neutral Host solutions, has partnered with Federated Wireless to roll out CBRS service in over 1,000 sites. Turnkey. Ready to go. Managed by a “neutral-host” third party. Fed by Starlink.
Open RAN modularizes cellular hardware, removing vendor lock-in. Software-defined mobile networks implement protocol-specific features in software. Together they create a telecommunications revolution that will play out over the next 5-10 years. Intel is all in. Cloud-native, software-defined 5G networks, running on Amazon’s AWS, even stuffed in a container, are now becoming the standard way of doing things. Commercial cellular carriers may have different “back-ends”, but can share the same community antenna…especially at 3.5 GHz.
A 25kW array at $3/watt (installed) would cost about $75,000 but rebates from the Oregon Energy Trust Incentive and the Federal Tax Credit can reduce the final cost by almost 75%.
Without income from an EV Charge Station it might take 10-20 years to achieve payback. Revenue from car charging/sharing may reduce payback to 3 years. Self-funded. Self-sustaining. Resiliency a side benefit.
Here’s what’s inside a $25,000 EV charging hub container:
1. 6KW of solar panels ($8K)
2. One, Tesla Power Wall or 2015 Leaf ($10K)
3. Level two connectors for all popular EVs ($2K)
4. Connections for grid power ($2K)
5. Misc. ($3K)
6. Total $25K
Here’s what’s inside the $25K Broadband Container.
1. ViaSat-3 Geosynch Terminal ($1K)
2. One, Starlink LEO broadband backhaul with flat antenna ($1K)
3. One, 3.5 GHz shared spectrum neighborhood hub ($5K)
4. 3KW of solar panels ($5K)
5. One, Tesla Power Wall or 2015 Leaf ($10K)
6. Misc. ($3K)
7. Total $25K
How could it make money for investors? Two ways; EV charging and community broadband.
1. EV CHARGING: We make $5 per charge and get maybe 10 charges a day ($50/day or $1500/month). A grid-connected DC Fast charger would likely be necessary. EVGo charges 60¢ per kWh, so a 20kW fillup might cost users $12, but electricity costs about 10¢ per kW/hr ($2 per 20kW). When there’s no demand for EV charging, juice is sold back to PGE.
2. COMMUNITY BROADBAND: Community broadband (at 25 Mbps) might generate $20/month per sub. Each 100-200 Mbps hub typically serves up to 50 people at $20/month. That’s $1,000/month. You can order a $180 band 48 mobile WiFi hotspot from Amazon today.
The containerized Charge Station/Wireless Hub might generate $2,500/month which would be close to the cost for the containers and running expenses. After the first 2 years, the $2500/mo revenue from vehicle charging and wireless broadband is mostly profit. Grants and loans help fund the initial CAPEX. The containers are easily transported state-wide. It starts small, building with success.
Blokable’s Vancouver Factory might manufacture the units, perhaps integrated with coffee shops or other facilities. Vancouver’s Phase3 Photovoltaics won a national contest to add solar panels into factory-built homes — making renewable energy more accessible for low-to-middle income, new homeowners.
Can Ford’s self-driving car business improve Austin’s traffic woes? Maybe. Open Transit Data like GTFS feeds enable apps to work together. Portland’s Moovel pioneered multi-modal transportation apps.
Two words: Mobile First.
Stakeholders, partners, and possible funders include, PGE, Pacific Power, Bonneville Power, Energy Trust, PDX Clean Energy Initiative, Oregon Clean Power Coop, Sustainable NW, Portland Emergency Management, FEMA, FCC, DOE, DOT, PNNL, Street Trust, Hacienda CDC, Metro, Forth Mobility, Prosper Portland, Cities, Counties, State of Oregon, Education, Oregon electric and telecom Coops, Lyft, Uber, Neighborhood Associations, etc.
Nissan has an agreement with the city of Yokosuka to provide free Leafs after an emergency to supply energy for heating, cooking, and communications. A similar agreement with Lyft or Uber could provide emergency power for Oregon communities.
The IEEE 1547 Standard interconnect ensures the safety of electric power workers when working on de-energized power lines while providing local residential power from solar or batteries.
Austin’s Doing It
The Austin SHINES project integrates solar, vehicle storage and V2G smart inverters to balance power supply and demand to make power networks more resilient, efficient and cleaner. City-wide it combines 4 MW of solar with 4MW of storage with a goal of $0.14/kWh using distributed solar and storage.
Could Portland achieve $0.10/kWh using juice stored on an EV? Since solar generates electricity for $.03/kWh and the “battery” is a car that is expected to MAKE money. Solar electric power, in this implementation, doesn’t cost money…it MAKES money.
2. EV Charging
3. Community Broadband
4. Bike Sharing
5. Electric Transit Support
6. Tracking without cellular
Municipal fiber or satellite can connect these nodes. Plan on it. You can order a mobile WiFi hotspot today on Amazon with 3.5 GHz CBRS backhaul for less than $180.
This modular “microgrid” approach demonstrates community resiliency AND profitability. V2G provides power to the grid when wind and solar can’t. It may save consumers 15% on their electric bill. It’s designed to be a profitable venture AND provide resiliency for the community.
➤ Solar-enhanced charge stations deliver revenue stream while EVs double as emergency batteries.
➤ Community Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) with satellite backhaul provides resilient broadband and additional revenue.
➤ Stimulates neighborhood economic development with local bike/car share services, food carts, etc.
Is this concept practical? That’s not clear. Due diligence should be applied to this concept. But solar carports and car sharing are proving their worth. The community wireless piece is a bigger unknown. Still, more than ten handsets, 40 infrastructure providers and 30 customers are “ready to launch”. Build it on a small scale now. Grow it as the CBRS wireless and electric car market expands.
Highways enable travel and trade. They are similar to utilities like electricity, natural gas, water and telecommunications. Toll roads aren’t the only way to go. Public utilities can be a viable option for many communities.
Here’s a vision: