The U.S. will account for 54 percent of worldwide electric-charging stations by 2015, according to ABI Research. ABI predicts that global revenue from chargers will reach $11.75 billion for the installation of 3 billion stations b

y 2015.

In 2010, there will be only 20,000 charging stations worldwide, but ABI expects 2011 to be the breakout year. Following the U.S. will be China, which will account for 23 percent of the world’s charging stations by 2015. The rest of the world will make up the other 23 percent.

"Infrastructure supporting electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles is on the cusp of a rapid and sustained growth curve,” says ABI research director Larry Fisher. “The charging infrastructure technology is here. We’re just waiting for the release of these vehicles into the market. Given the limited range per charge, however, early adopters will need to keep their journeys relatively short.”

San Francisco has been one of the most active cities in promoting vehicle-charging stations. This February, the city revised its building codes so that all new homes and offices will be wired for chargers. The city also announced a “sustainable financing program,” which offers citizens low-interest loans for the purchase of electric cars.

In a rather old-school show of civic symbolism, the city has installed chargers outside of city hall. San Francisco is currently looking at 22 garages where additional stations can be set up.

A business’s ownership of a charging stating is doubly beneficial. First, there’s the social cachet that comes with being one of the first to offer such a cutting edge and sustainable service. It’s good for PR. Secondly, charging electric cars takes time, anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours, so retail, dining or entertainment venues can benefit from extra customers while cars are charging.

By Mark Alvarez