The San Diego Zoo’s EVs have been powered by the sun since the end of November.
Kyocera Solar Inc. photovoltaic (PV) solar panels are powering the new 90-kilowatt canopy that charges electric vehicles (EVs) at the San Diego Zoo.
The Solar-to-EV project, in partnership with Smart City San Diego, is run by San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and is a part of the Zoo’s commitment to environmental sustainability.
All Kyocera solar panels used in this project were manufactured in the U.S.A. at the company’s San Diego facility.
Kyocera says the Solar-to-EV project is among the first of its kind. Its Kyocera solar panels harness the sun’s energy to charge EVs in the zoo’s parking lot and provide renewable energy to the electrical grid, while its high-tech battery system stores solar power for future use.
Ten solar canopies, designed and installed by Vista-based Independent Energy Solutions (IES), produce 90 kilowatts of peak generating capacity – enough to power 59 homes – as well as five EV charging stations, including one in a nearby ADA-accessible parking space.
Using new lithium-polymer battery technology, its 100-kw energy storage system is charged by the solar canopies to offset demand on the electrical grid and recharge EVs after sunset.
When the battery is full, excess energy generated from sunlight is put into the 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.
“Kyocera is celebrating 41 years in San Diego, and 37 years as a leader in solar energy solutions,” said Steve Hill, president of Kyocera Solar, Inc. “We’re proud to work with other San Diego companies that are equally committed to making sustainable energy a reality, especially at one of the most well-known landmarks in the country.”
Smart City San Diego is a collaboration of local companies, government and universities to drive projects that improve the region’s energy independence, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and showcase 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 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.”
The partners in the project said 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.