Unforeseen Benefit of Solar Power for Traditional Malls
As malls continue to lose customers to online shopping, they are faced with an ever-increasing level of desperation to remain relevant in today’s market. Malls have to adapt but they are not setting a plan yet; they are, unfortunately, still in the discovery stage of finding a solution. The answer to their problems is taking too long to determine. Malls spend tens of thousands of dollars every month on electricity and a solar array would definitely help lower their utility bill for electricity. Thomas Frey lays out many great suggestions and solutions for malls to adapt and remain relevant, but I feel he could have gone one step further to tie it all together... solar for the buildings but specifically, sufficient charging stations for electric vehicles. Currently, many malls offer charging stations for electric car owners but they are usually on the perimeter of the parking lots and never nearly enough to satisfy all the electric vehicles about to hit the roads.
Jaguar/Landrover is leading the way by announcing they will cease building internal combustion engines by 2025 and their fleet will be fully electric. Nearly all the other car manufacturers will follow suit and no longer develop new gas engines between 2030 and 2040. There will soon be a massive number of electric cars across America.
One of the largest drawbacks and concerns for consumers hesitant to purchase an electric vehicle is the time required to charge it. Most home charging is performed on a 120 volt plug and it takes about 17 hours for a full charge, depending upon the battery size of the vehicle. The homeowner would need to plug it in two nights in a row to get a full charge. However, what about condo owners or renters? What is their option? The alternative is to go and find a quick charging station. Commercial charging stations are much more powerful and efficient than what the average home has. A full charge on a level 3, 440 volt system can charge most cars within a couple of hours. The problem is who wants to hang out at the gas station for hours waiting for a charge? I know I have much better uses of my time than that.
What a great opportunity for malls to keep their customers longer. In 2016, the average amount of time people spent at the mall ranged between 96 minutes to a little over 2.5 hours, depending on age. That is nearly the same amount of time it takes to fully charge a car. If malls take Frey’s suggestion and become more community-focused and add much greater access to level 3 charging stations, they will once offer a variety of compelling reasons for patrons to return to the mall on a much more regular basis.