Smart City San Diego Unveils Solar-to-EV Project at the San Diego Zoo.

Solar to EV project (3)by Jennifer Jamall, Communications Director, CleanTECH San Diego
(Business Alliance Member)

Smart City San Diego unveiled its Solar-to-EV Project at the San Diego Zoo – a 90-kilowatt solar photovoltaic canopy that directly charges electric vehicles (EVs) in the Zoo parking lot. Smart City San Diego is a collaboration that combines the resources of CleanTECH San Diego, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), City of San Diego, GE, and UC San Diego to introduce new technologies and serve as working platforms to test the market viability and functioning of innovated approaches to achieving energy independence and greenhouse gas reduction.

The nation’s first of its kind, the Solar-to-EV Project harnesses energy from the sun to directly charge plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), stores solar power for future use and provides renewable energy to the electrical grid. The project features 10 solar canopies producing 90 kilowatts (kW) of electricity – enough energy at peak capacity to power 59 homes – as well as five EV charging stations, with one station located in a nearby ADA-accessible parking space.

Using new battery technology, a 100-kW energy storage system is charged by the solar canopies and used to offset power demands on the grid to charge the vehicles. When the battery is full, the excess solar energy generation is put back on the electric grid to improve reliability and benefit the surrounding community. The solar canopies also provide shade to approximately 50 cars in the Zoo’s southeast parking area.

The clean energy produced by the Solar-to-EV project is equivalent to removing 189,216 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere annually, 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.

Located in the heart of San Diego’s world-renowned Balboa Park, the Zoo is visited by more than 3.5 million people each year. Installing the Solar-to-EV project at the Zoo is an important opportunity for Smart City San Diego to showcase the region’s commitment to clean energy for visitors from across the globe.

Additionally – with more than 2,000 privately owned PEVs in San Diego County – the Zoo site provides much-needed additional charging options for EV drivers, which will continue to support the state’s growing clean vehicle market demand. California has the most aggressive greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals in the nation. With almost 40 percent of the state’s GHG emissions coming from transportation, integrating clean transportation alternatives is critical to achieving the state’s goal to reduce transportation GHG by more than 13 million tons by 2020.

The Solar-to-EV Project serves as the cornerstone in the City of San Diego’s ongoing efforts to usher in sustainable solutions for Balboa Park – particularly as the region gears up for the Park’s Centennial Celebration in 2015. This effort will involve significant initiatives to modernize the Park’s facilities, operations and energy assets and be an extension of the smartest city in the nation.

You can watch a great video about the Solar-to-EV Project here.

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