Smart City San Diego and City of San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders today unveiled the completed Smart City San Diego Solar-to-EV Project – a 90-kilowatt 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, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and assert San Diego as a clean energy leader.
“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, City of San Diego. “This project will serve as a new energy infrastructure blueprint that can be replicated throughout the San Diego region and beyond.”
One of the first of its kind in the country, 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 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 that is generated is 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
“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. “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 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 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. The system and its educational tools are part of the Zoo’s goals to encourage the application of sustainable design driven by science and the natural world.
“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 EV Project and are owned by the program’s administrator.
About Smart City San Diego
Smart City San Diego is a collaboration combining the resources of the City of San Diego, San Diego Gas & Electric, GE, UC San Diego and CleanTECH San Diego. Together, these leading organizations from government, business, education and non-profit are maximizing synergies to drive existing energy programs forward, identify new opportunities, embrace additional collaborators and move the San Diego region beyond today’s boundaries of sustainability. Visit the Smart City San Diego website at www.SmartCitySD.org.
About The San Diego Zoo Wildlife Conservancy
The San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy is dedicated to bringing endangered species back from the brink of extinction. The work of the Conservancy includes onsite wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, and international field programs in more than 35 countries. In addition, San Diego Zoo Global manages the Anne and Kenneth Griffin Reptile Conservation Center, the Frozen ZooTM, Native Seed Gene Bank, the Keauhou and Maui Hawaii Endangered Bird Conservation Centers, the San Clemente Loggerhead Shrike Breeding Facility, the Cocha Cashu Biological Research Station, the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center, and a 800-acre biodiversity reserve adjacent to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The important conservation and science work of these entities is supported in part by The Foundation of the Zoological Society of San Diego.