Solar-Powered EV Charging from Electrify America — New Project
Electric cars are clean, but solar-powered electric cars are much cleaner. For years, many electric car drivers have been charging up with solar power at home, but solar-powered charging away from home is a bit more challenging. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said many years ago that all Tesla Superchargers would be solar powered — but we are still very far from that goal. A few are. The newest option for solar-powered EV fast charging, though, comes from Electrify America — the fast charging network Volkswagen was forced to build as part of its punishment for Dieselgate.
Electrify America announced today that it broke ground on “Solar Glow 1.” As with many a cleantech project or innovation, Solar Glow 1 is in the Golden State. It’s a 75-megawatt solar power project in San Bernardino County, California. Solar Glow 1 is expected to generate 225,000 megawatt-hours of clean electricity per year.
“Solar Glow™ 1 is the result of a 15-year virtual power purchase agreement (VPPA) with developer Terra-Gen,” Electrify America writes. “The groundbreaking of Solar Glow 1 is an important step towards additional annual renewable energy generation comparable to the energy used by over 20,000 American homes annually,” added Jigar Shah, Head of Energy Services at Electrify America. (That’s based on an estimate of 10.632 MWh of electricity use per home in 2021.)
“Electrify America has always been focused on driving sustainability forward, which extends beyond electric vehicles and charging and into the energy needed to power the EV revolution” said Rob Barrosa, vice president technology of Electrify America. “Our customers can feel proud that every charge they make on our network is backed by 100% renewable energy, and today’s groundbreaking of Solar Glow 1 showcases our future and represents our company’s values.”
Indeed — Electrify America may have some struggles with station reliability in some locations, but one thing you can count on is a strong supply of clean, renewable electricity for your electric car. It gets 100% of its electricity from renewable energy sources directly or indirectly. So, while Tesla drivers like me can benefit from more abundant, reliable, and convenient superfast charging, where the Tesla network falls short compared to the Electrify America network is that the latter is 100% clean whereas the former is not.
Also, as we can see here, even though Electrify America has been buying renewable energy certificates or credits in order to be “100% powered by renewable energy,” it is working to get more of its electricity from specific solar projects it funds, like Solar Glow 1. I presume that the “1” is added on there because there will be a Solar Glow 2, Solar Glow 3, Solar Glow 4, etc.
Electrify America is also constantly rolling out new EV fast-charging stations. “Since installing the first station in May 2018, the network has opened an average of four stations per week,” the network notes. Electrify America also started providing Plug&Charge capability a couple of years ago, so that — like Tesla drivers — EV drivers could simply plug their EV into an Electrify America station and it would start pumping the car full of electricity. There have been some hiccups with this super convenient charging feature with some EVs, but the company keeps improving and this should largely work for EVs with the inherent capability built into their internal charging technology.
In addition to all of the good work Electrify America is doing to cut emissions, provide clean electric-car charging, and improve convenience and reliability for EV road trips, it is also giving back to communities in California (the heart of the US electric vehicle world). The company has “invested over $5.7 million in more than 10 California community-based organizations to support EV education and access to low-income and disadvantaged communities, in addition to more than $13.5 million in educational marketing in the state to date.”
Featured image courtesy of Electrify America.