The Solar-to-EV project began construction Sept. 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.
“This project will demonstrate new technology, and provide guests with a way to charge their EVs with clean energy while they visit the Zoo,” noted Jim Avery, senior vice president of power supply for SDG&E.
90 kW of solar PV power
The project will incorporate 10 solar canopies producing 90 kilowatts (kW) of electricity, as well as five EV charging stations. Using new battery technology, a 100-kW energy storage system will be 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 will be put onto 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. One of the project’s charging stations is located in a nearby ADA-accessible parking space.
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, the same as planting 2,788 trees annually, or the equivalent to removing 21 cars from the road each year. When driven on electricity, EVs offer zero tailpipe emissions as well as no emissions overall when the electricity is directly from solar power.
High tech components
The Solar-to-EV project not only aims to encourage EV drivers to visit the Zoo and Balboa Park, but will also provide displays onsite and online to educate visitors about the usefulness of batteries that can store solar energy, the benefits of driving EVs, and the role that the system plays in driving sustainability forward.
“San Diego Zoo is delighted to be part of a project that sets the stage for the future,” said John Dunlap, Director of the San Diego Zoo.
The project will be 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 will be owned by the program’s administrator. In keeping with Smart City San Diego’s economic development goals, the project will use local vendors for design and construction and create 35 jobs during construction.