17.01.2023 - Green technology, Startups, Technology

Street light infrastructure to power electric vehicles

Using existing street light infrastructure, the startup SimpleCharge is installing three electric car chargers in the Riga neighbourhood of Ķīpsala. The company plans to deploy around 100 public charging stations in 2023: not only in Latvia, but also in Estonia, Lithuania, Romania, and Croatia.

The startup has secured funding from European regional structural funds for some of the stations to be installed this year and is looking for seed investment for others.

“SimpleCharge’s mission is to reduce inequalities in the availability of charging infrastructure and to offer truly affordable public charging for electric cars,” says Kristaps Elvis Volks, business development manager at SimpleCharge.

The operator of the charging equipment is Eleport. The company has noticed that these charging stations are in fairly high demand. “Providing electric car charging at places of residence is critical to persuade people to switch to an electric car. In 2023, we will continue to actively support SimpleCharge not only in Latvia, but also in neighbouring countries, where a very high proportion of the population lives in apartment buildings and it is difficult to install private charging solutions,” said Kārlis Mendziņš, head of Eleport Latvia. Latvia ranks first in Europe in the percentage of the population living in apartment buildings (65.2%). Estonia (61.1%) and Lithuania (58.9%) rank 3rd and 4th respectively.

Aligned with urban climate targets

The chargers were installed under the “Support for the installation of technologies in Smart City Technology Pilot Areas” programme and in cooperation with the Riga City Council’s Urban Development Department and the agency Rīgas Gaisma (Riga Light).

“SimpleCharge is a very innovative solution for the municipality in that it is relatively easy to install. There is no need for new construction works, approvals, installations, etc., which add up to the cost of several SimpleCharge charging stations. As a result, SimpleCharge charging stations can not only offer a cheaper charging service, but also faster development of the electric vehicle charging network, which is important both for meeting the city’s climate goals and for ensuring an efficient transport infrastructure,” says Inese Andersone, chair of the Riga City Council’s Urban Development Committee.

First in the Baltics

The solution, which uses existing infrastructure, both facilitates the installation of electric car charging stations and opens up the potential for a larger charging network. This is the first EV charging station solution in the Baltics to be installed on street lights. The first prototype was installed on Apes Street in Riga.

Although the share of electric cars is currently low, SimpleCharge’s vision is to develop the infrastructure to enable environmentally friendly mobility. The idea is that this charging solution could be placed in apartment building courtyards, parking lots, petrol stations, as well as near shopping centres.

From hackathon to incubator

SimpleCharge was recognised at the 2021 Vefresh Urban Mobility Hackathon. The startup then continued its work in the urban mobility incubator. The incubator is a private, public, and research collaboration project supported by the EIT Urban Mobility Knowledge and Innovation Community and organised by the innovation movement Vefresh in cooperation with the Riga City Council’s Urban Development Department and the Institute of Electronics and Computer Science. The company also participated in the Buildit acceleration programme and received its seed investment.

SimpleCharge received 10,000 euros to develop its idea in the Riga entrepreneurship support programme Atspēriens. At the Idea Cup 2021, a competition by the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia, SimpleCharge got second place and 7,000 euros in prize money.

Author: Anda Asere (labsoflatvia.com). Publicity photo.

Sign up for newsletters

Stay up to date on the weekly newsletters on recent news and activities.


Sign up for newsletters

Stay up to date on the weekly newsletters on recent news and activities.


Please fill the input fields
Thank you the file has been successfully downloaded