Today, Smart City San Diego – 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 – unveiled a new project with the San Diego Zoo to build a solar photovoltaic canopy that will charge electric vehicles (EV) in the Zoo parking lot.
The Solar-to-EV project, which began construction on Sept. 4, is a tremendously exciting step forward for both the Zoo and the region’s sustainability. The first of its kind in San Diego, 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.
The project will incorporate 10 solar canopies producing 90 kilowatts (kW) of electricity, as well as five PEV 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, 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 comes directly from solar power.
So why did Smart City San Diego choose to the San Diego Zoo for this project? 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 this project at the Zoo is an opportunity to showcase San Diego’s commitment to clean energy for both locals and visitors from across the globe. Additionally, the Zoo site will provide additional charging options for PEV drivers as San Diego continues to extend its state and national leadership with cleaner vehicles on the road.
To read more about the Solar-to-EV project, visit Smart City San Diego’s website at http://www.smartcitysd.org/projects/zoo and stay tuned for more updates as the project is completed!