BAR HARBOR — Drivers may have “range anxiety” when it comes to contemplating the use of electric vehicles (EV).

But various forms of pure and hybrid EVs are already in use and greater numbers are expected, as today’s sustainable-energy car, battery and infrastructure initiatives rapidly develop.

College of the Atlantic recently took a step toward boosting EV use on Mount Desert Island when the college opened up to the public the use of its two new solar-powered electric charging stations, located at the college’s main campus in Bar Harbor and at COA’s Beech Hill Farm in Somesville. The stations, free to the public, are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Installation of the chargers came about through the efforts of COA junior Alex Pine, who was aided in the installation by senior Lisa Bjerke.

Pine, who drives a biodiesel car, said students were looking into buying a van to service Beech Hill Farm and COA’s Peggy Rockefeller Farms. Both farms are learning labs for sustainable farming techniques, and Beech Hill sells produce to COA and the general community.

“For me, if you’re talking about sustainable farming in the Northeast, it doesn’t make sense to have a gasoline-powered vehicle,” Pine said.

Instead, Pine found a rebuilt GMC electric van at a price the college could afford, convinced COA president Darron Collins that the college should purchase it, then contacted Darling’s Nissan dealership in Bangor to see if it would be willing to help out with the project.

Nissan manufacturers the Leaf, the top-selling EV in the United States, according to the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI). The Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt, a hybrid, currently dominate the plug-in market, according to EESI. Both vehicles debuted in 2010. Other plug-ins include the hybrid Toyota Prius, the Ford Focus Electric, the Tesla Model S, the Mitsubishi i, and the CODA.

According to EESI, there are two main types of plug-in EVs. The all-electric uses only electric power from the grid; those do not have an internal combustion engine and do not use any type of liquid fuel. The plug-in hybrid is powered by a combination of grid electricity and liquid fuel.

“Plug-in vehicle sales currently account for less than 1 percent of all vehicle sales, but that number is projected to grow as the cost of plug-in vehicles decreases,” according to EESI.

The Nissan dealership donated two Level 2 chargers to the college. The devices can charge any plug-in vehicle.

The stations are linked to solar arrays installed by COA students and funded by grants from the Environmental Protection Agency and MDI Clean Energy Partners L3C, a local business formed in 2011 to educate the public about solar energy and increase private funding for such systems.

Pine said the COA initiative contributes to the larger conversation about the place of electric vehicles in people’s lives.

“I think it’s a matter of presenting a good argument for electric vehicles and advocating for them,” he said. “The first step in electric vehicle adoption is the implementation of a charging network. With this station, COA is taking the lead in making the island ready for electric vehicles.”

EVs can be plugged into a standard residential 110-volt wall outlet. However, according to EESI, getting a full recharge takes eight to 14 hours. The device at COA is a 220-volt charger designed for residential use; it provides a full recharge in four to eight hours, depending on the size of the battery pack, says EESI. A 220-volt outlet is the same as those used by household washers and dryers.

“These units are quite affordable,” Pine noted. “In some places, it does increase the value of the home to have one.”

Pine said the use of EVs, at least for now, will take a shift in thinking.

“If a member of the public wants to use this, the first thing to realize about an electric car is it’s not a gasoline vehicle,” he said. “We sort of have this mindset that when you go to fuel up your vehicle, whether it be electric or gasoline or diesel, you go someplace and do it and you’re good for a while. With an electric vehicle, you have to shift that mindset. What you really ought to think about is, when you have the opportunity to charge, you charge. And that way, instead of having one big eight-hour charge, you have a bunch of little one-hour charges that equal the same amount.

“The other thing to keep in mind is, electric vehicles don’t charge in a linear way. It isn’t one hour, 10 percent; two hours, 20 percent. It’s one hour, 50 percent; two hours, 80 percent. There’s a curve to it, so you get a lot of your charge in the first few hours.”

With a ubiquitous electrical infrastructure, he said, the nation is primed to accommodate a equally ubiquitous network of charging stations.

For today’s two-car families, he said, it makes sense to have one of those cars be an electric vehicle. Most people, he said, commute or run errands within the range of an EV’s daily charge.

“I don’t think the amount of distance that most people drive in a day really requires a gasoline engine,” he said. “So in my mind, it makes more sense to have an electric vehicle. But people have a lot of anxiety about running out of charge, and ending up on the side of the road. My thought is that, if you knew your car could only hold one gallon of gas, would you try driving it around on a road trip? No. And people say, ‘Well, that means electric vehicles aren’t that great. They’re not good cars.’ But by that same argument, your bicycle isn’t a very good boat. It’s not what it was designed for.”