News and analysis about renewable energy in California.

New Mobile App Helps Drivers Find Alt Fuel, Electric Charging Stations

Map of electric vehicle charging locations near KCET's headquarters in Burbank, CA. | Screenshot: Courtesy NREL

Considering a non-gasoline ride but nervous about finding places to top off your chosen "fuel"? We realize this is a dated catchphrase, but there's an app for that.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has just released an iOS app in that gives you access on the go to more than 15,000 alternative fuel locations nationwide, with more on the way. A quick tap shows you the 20 closest fueling locations within a 30-mile radius of wherever you happen to be, courtesy the Department of Energy's Alternative Fuels Data Center database.

"Generally, people don't search for a station while they are sitting at a computer," points out NREL Project Manager Trish Cozart. "They need this information while they are out and about, which makes a mobile application the ideal means to deliver it."

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The app allows you to search for nearby stations -- or stations at a location you plan to visit -- offering electric car chargers, biodiesel, Compressed or Liquefied Natural Gas, Ethanol/E85, hydrogen, or propane. You can also filter out the results to make sure the stations take your preferred form of payment.

"The number of alternative fuel vehicles on the road has been increasing steadily over the last two decades," Cozart said. "Drivers and fleets have an unprecedented array of options to cut or eliminate petroleum use, and this new app serves as one more tool to make that easier."

There isn't an Android version of the app just yet, but the Alternative Fuels Data Center does have a web-app widget with a bit more functionality than the iOS version, including route planning for your preferred source of motive power. To provide an example, we've charted a route from the Bay to Barstow for an electric vehicle driver:

The iPhone/iPad app is free to download and use.

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About the Author

Chris Clarke is a natural history writer and environmental journalist currently at work on a book about the Joshua tree. He lives in Joshua Tree.
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