Solar Car Charging Stations... A Smart Idea for the Smart Grid
With all the hype about smart meters, it is easy to forget that the smart grid is so much more. Today’s post is a refreshing break from the opt-out drama and provides insight into other innovations of the smart grid. Smart City San Diego and the San Diego Zoo recently announced they will install a solar photovoltaic canopy that will charge electric vehicles (EV) in the Zoo parking lot. The Solar-to-EV project began construction on September 4. One of the first of its kind in the region, the project will harness energy from the sun to directly charge plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), store solar power for future use and provide renewable energy to the surrounding community.
Located at the iconic San Diego Zoo in the heart of the city's world-renowned Balboa Park, the Solar-to-EV project will serve as a new energy infrastructure blueprint that can be replicated throughout the region and beyond. At peak production, the Solar-to-EV project will produce enough energy to power 59 homes. The clean energy produced is equivalent to removing 189,216 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year, or the same as planting 2,788 trees annually. For additional comparison, the greenhouse gas emissions savings from the electricity produced is equivalent to removing 21 cars from the road each year. Furthermore, PEVs when driven on electricity offer zero tailpipe emissions and no emissions overall when the electricity is directly from solar power.
Meanwhile, a few time zones away, the Black Bear Solar Institute is doing its part to help establish a Green Gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, bridging the gap between the Interstate Highways and major metropolitan areas of Tennessee to the National Park Gateway Community of Townsend, TN, with Electric Vehicle charging stations, enabling EV drivers to visit the National Park powered by clean, renewable solar-generated electricity. This unique nonprofit organization was selected to install charging stations at the Talley Ho Inn and the Carriage House Restaurant in Townsend, TN, as well as many others in the area. This is not only environmentally friendly but is also a strategic move that will encourage the growing number of electric vehicle owners to make these establishments a stop on a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains.
Like the San Diego Zoo’s project, the Black Bear Solar Institute is also participating in the U.S. Department of Energy's EV Project. Our industry is a bevy of acronyms. Here are a few basics as explained on the EV Project’s website:
What is an EV? - The term “EV” is used to denote all grid-connected electric vehicles, including plug-in hybrid (PHEV), range-extended (REEV) and battery electric vehicles (BEV).
What is a BEV? - A BEV, or battery electric vehicle, is a vehicle powered by an electric motor. BEVs run on batteries charged by electricity, similar to cell phones or digital cameras. Because BEVs run purely on electric charges, they emit no tailpipe emissions, making them a clean, environmentally friendly driving option. With the EV Project, consumers are able to charge their vehicles at home and on-the-go with our strategically placed charging stations. The Nissan LEAF is a BEV.
What is a PHEV? - A PHEV, or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, has both an electric battery and a gasoline engine. PHEVs run on an electric charge and convert to gasoline when the battery runs down.
The EV Project’s website provides a wealth of information regarding electric vehicles. My favorite is the link to a cool blinking map that shows charging stations across the US. The grid is looking smarter already.