The San Diego Zoo, which operates a world-famous wildlife park and a conservation organization dedicated to saving 16,000 endangered species, has a new mission—preserving man’s future on Earth. The zoo’s latest eco-friendly effort is the installation of solar canopies in the parking lot that recharge five zero-emission plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), store energy in a battery for future use, and feed extra power to the grid.
The Solar-to-EV project, in partnership with Smart City San Diego, is operated by the regional utility, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&). One of the first of its kind in the country, the project harnesses energy from the sun to directly charge 10 solar canopies, designed and installed by Vista, California-based Independent Energy Solutions. The solar modules—provided by Kyocera (News - Alert) Solar Inc.—were manufactured in the United States at the company’s San Diego facility.
The canopies produce 90 kilowatts (kW) of electricity— enough energy at peak capacity to charge the equivalent of 59 homes. When the chargers are not in use, solar power is stored in a 100-kW lithium-polymer battery system for future operation; any energy that cannot be stockpiled is loaded 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.
“The Solar-to-EV project is a cornerstone in the City of San Diego’s ongoing efforts to usher in sustainable solutions for Balboa Park in anticipation of the Park’s 2015 Centennial Celebration,” said Mayor Jerry Sanders. “This project will serve as a new energy infrastructure blueprint that can be replicated throughout the San Diego region and beyond.”
“California has established the most aggressive greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals in the nation. With almost 40 percent of our state’s GHG emissions coming from transportation, clean vehicle alternatives will be critical to achieving these goals,” said Jim Avery, senior vice president of Power Supply for SDG&E, adding, “Under Mayor Sander’s leadership, the City of San Diego has consistently been ahead of the curve in determining how best to demonstrate new technology and provide necessary infrastructure to promote clean energy adoption.”
The project not only aims to encourage EV drivers to visit the zoo and Balboa Park, but also provides displays onsite and online to educate visitors about the role that the system plays in driving sustainability forward.
“As part of our ongoing effort to be a conservation leader, San Diego Zoo is thrilled to host the Solar-to-EV project and help set the stage for the future," said John Dunlap, director of the San Diego Zoo. "By providing a sustainable energy mechanism at one of San Diego’s most well-known destinations, the zoo is not only providing this vehicle-charging option to our guests, but also raising awareness for new technologies for the millions of people we host from all over the world.”
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 ECOtality EV Project . Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, ECOtality is deploying chargers in major cities and metropolitan areas throughout United States, including: California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Texas, Tennessee, Illinois, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Washington, DC. Chevrolet and Nissan North America are partners in the EV Project.
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, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and assert San Diego as a clean energy leader.
“This high-profile and innovative collaborative project combines two major sustainability initiatives – solar energy and electric vehicles —showcasing to the millions of Zoo visitors that the future of energy is in San Diego today,” said Jim Waring, executive chair of CleanTECH San Diego and a Smart City San Diego partner. “Kyocera is a recognized solar industry leader and its commitment to quality and local manufacturing is important to Smart City San Diego’s mission as well.”
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Edited by Brooke Neuman