Spanish wind turbine maker Gamesa this week announced an investment in a start-up targeted at the emerging market for electric vehicle charging stations.
Gamesa said Wednesday its venture capital arm has taken a 20 percent stake in N2S, a Madrid software maker that specializes in real time intelligent management of EV charging stations.
The dollar amount of the stake wasn't disclosed but it comes from a $64 million venture fund set up by the company to make strategic investments in renewable energy start-ups through 2016.
The company has said it is placing investments of $4 million-$6.5 million with the venture fund.
Gamesa has introduced several prototype EV charging stations that it says will begin rolling off its Valencia, Spain, manufacturing lines this year. It has worked with the Spanish utility Iberdrola to supply and market the units.
The N2S platform will be included with the stations, allowing them to be controlled from any computer, tablet or mobile telephone. The software, Gamesa Venture Capital Director David Mesonero said, is suitable for equipment produced by any manufacturer of currently available charging stations.
"In N2S we have found a very solid team which, in its short existence, is already developing reliable, time-tested and state-of-the-art technologies," he said. "Together we will strengthen strategic business lines and cement their international expansion process."
EV industry backers say a tremendous growth opportunity for charging stations exists in Europe. They point, for instance, to France, where EV charging stations will be mandatory outside new apartment buildings starting this year and are to be placed in all parking lots by 2015, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The French government committed to spending $2.2 billion in 2009 for the rollout of a charging station network as part of a broader state plan to encourage the development of clean vehicle technology and battery manufacturing, the newspaper said.
In Estonia, the Swiss power and automation technology company ABB Group last week was chosen to build a network of 200 EV fast-charging stations throughout the country in the largest European EV charging infrastructure contract.
The project will establish the world's first nationwide fast-charging infrastructure. ABB said it will start deliveries in the second quarter and plans to have all the chargers running by the end of this year.
"This order shows that the rollout of EV charging infrastructure solutions is gaining momentum and complements the recent run of small orders we've taken in other European countries from original equipment manufacturers in the automotive industry and infrastructure customers," ABB executive Ulrich Spiesshofer said.
In August, German electric utility E.ON said it had begun installation of the first fast-charging EV stations along public roadways in the country.
The direct-current, 50-kilowatt station marked the first time a fast charging EV station has been opened to the public in Germany. The idea, E.ON says, is to expand the range of EVs.
Currently with ranges of about 60 miles, such vehicles are mainly used by commuters who charge them overnight.
The utility says the fast-charging stations can recharge vehicles within 30 minutes and, with eventual availability along the nation's highways, Germans could use electric vehicles for intercity travel.