Electric Vehicles, Renewable Energy, Smart Grid, Solar

Solar electric vehicle charging canopies installed at San Diego Zoo

Smart City San Diego and City of San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders unveiled the completed Smart City San Diego Solar-to-EV Project — a 90-kW solar photovoltaic canopy that directly charges electric vehicles (EVs) in the San Diego Zoo parking lot.

Smart City San Diego is a collaboration that combines the resources of San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), city of San Diego, GE, UC San Diego and CleanTECH San Diego to drive projects forward that improve the region’s energy independence and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Solar-to-EV Project harnesses energy from the sun to directly charge plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), store solar power for future use and provide renewable energy to the electrical grid.

The project incorporates 10 solar canopies producing 90 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 that is generated is put onto the electric grid to improve reliability and benefit the surrounding community. The solar canopies also provide shade to about 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 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.

The Solar-to-EV project is owned and managed by SDG&E’s Sustainable Communities Program, which promotes local solar installations and green building design and construction throughout the region. The charging stations are part of The EV Project and are owned by the program’s administrator.