• Sep 22nd 2009 at 2:04PM
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Electric vehicle drivers in sunny California can now look forward to getting some solar-powered juice for their rides. SolarCity and Rabobank are partnering up to install a series of EV quick-charging locations along Highway 101 between San Francisco and Los Angeles, one of which is already solar-powered. Four chargers have been installed – and are in operation – in Salinas, Atascadero, Santa Maria and San Luis Obispo. A fifth charger will be up and running in Goleta by the middle of October. The Santa Maria station is powered by a 30kW solar array. The units are all High-Power Connector fast chargers that provide 240V, 70 amps and can fully recharge a Tesla Roadster in about three-and-a-half hours. Currently, the charging stations will only connect to a Roadster, but SolarCity plans to retrofit these chargers to fit all EVs in the near future.
This is just the beginning of a solar EV charging network that SolarCity and Rabobank want to install in the area. SolarCity owns and operates four of the charging stations in the current network (all installed at Rabobank locations); the San Luis Obispo location is owned by the city and is located at a parking garage.

There's a reason SolarCity is so interested in making it easier for Roadsters to get from SF to LA. SolarCity is Tesla Motor's preferred solar partner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk provided the principal financing for SolarCity.

[Source: SolarCity]


SolarCity and Rabobank Announce Corridor of Solar-Powered Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

SolarCity and Rabobank will enable electric vehicles to travel between San Francisco and Los Angeles

SANTA MARIA, Calif., Sept. 22, 2009–SolarCity® and Rabobank, N.A. today announced a partnership to create the world's first solar-power enhanced, fast-charge electric car charging corridor. When complete, the corridor will include four locations between San Francisco and Los Angeles (Salinas, Atascadero, Santa Maria and Goleta), allowing all-electric cars to make the trip using solar energy and provide for the fastest charge time available for public EV charges. The SolarCity-owned and operated corridor, built in cooperation with electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla Motors, will provide a full charge in one third the amount of time of other charging stations.

San Francisco and Los Angeles each support local infrastructure for electric vehicles (EV), and many enterprising EV owners have successfully completed ambitious road trips throughout California and cross-country. Allowing drivers to plug in and charge up at multiple locations along well traveled corridors will dramatically increase the convenience and practicality of the growing number of EVs on American roads. Rabobank branches are positioned all along the high-traffic Highway 101 corridor, close to shops, restaurants and other commercial centers in Northern and Southern California, making them ideal locations for charging stations.

"This charging station corridor demonstrates an important component of SolarCity's vision for a carbon-free lifestyle. We're combining clean, renewable solar power with all-electric transportation, allowing drivers to travel through California with zero emissions," said SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive. SolarCity has installed more than 100 solar home charging stations for Tesla owners. The company has also assumed responsibility for a distribution contract for electric vehicle chargers for Toyota Tsusho as part its acquisition of SolSource Energy, announced last week.

Rabobank, N.A. is a California community bank that provides personalized service and a full array of quality products to individuals, businesses, and agricultural clients. The bank has completed a 30 kilowatt solar installation at its South Broadway branch in Santa Maria and is evaluating installing solar at additional locations. In addition to providing renewable energy to charge electric cars, the systems will offset electricity used by the locations. As part of the Rabobank Group, a global leader in sustainability-oriented banking, Rabobank, N.A. will offer local California customers and local shoppers convenient charging stations with clean, renewable energy.

"We hope that this corridor of charging stations provides new travel opportunities for electric vehicle owners and gives further momentum to the renewable energy movement," said Marco Krapels, co-chair of the bank's Corporate Social Responsibility committee.

The corridor would be the first interregional effort of its kind and would be the first to include solar power at a charging station. California is the first state in the United States to be aggressive about EV transportation. The Bay Area is home of Tesla Motors, makers of electric sports cars, among other EV manufacturers. State and local governments, electric utilities, the federal government and other entities are working together to support this infrastructure. Rabobank and SolarCity are taking the EV movement one step further, by charging electric vehicles with power from the sun.

Tom Dowling, electric vehicle charging infrastructure manager for the Electric Auto Association, is experienced with installing, tracking and maintaining EV charging stations. "These bank branches are what I call enabler locations because they allow EV drivers to take longer trips and thereby use the EV as their primary car," says Dowling. "Solar-powered charging stations mean true zero-emission driving, from well to wheels."

For more information about charging stations and electric cars:

About SolarCity
SolarCity-a national leader in solar power system design, financing, installation, monitoring and related services-was founded with the mission to help millions of homeowners and businesses adopt solar power, protect themselves from rising electricity costs, and protect their environment from polluting power sources. The company's SolarLease and Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) options can make it possible for homeowners and businesses to switch to clean, solar power for less money than they currently pay for electricity. SolarCity currently serves 500 communities in California, Arizona and Oregon. Additional information about the company is available on the Web at www.solarcity.com.

About Rabobank, N.A.
Rabobank, N.A. is a California community bank that provides personalized service and a full array of quality products to individuals, businesses, and agricultural clients. With 91 retail branches and 15 financial service centers, we serve the needs of communities from Sacramento to the Imperial Valley through local decision making and active community involvement by our employees. Rabobank, N.A. is part of the Rabobank Group, one of the world's largest and safest banks. www.rabobankamerica.com

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Months Ago
      Its about time. EVs and Solar Shade Charging Stations here they come.
      • 7 Months Ago
      When they say "solar-powered", I assume they mean partially powered by solar panels and then power is drawn from the grid. Without a storage battery associated with the charger, there would be no juice at night or on sunless days.

      Also, is there a capacity of how many cars can be charged on solar in any given day?
      • 7 Months Ago
      But, but, California already has lots of charging stations!

      We are really, really not feeling the EV charging love out on the East Coast!
      • 7 Months Ago
      To me charging for EV seems to be the part of the equation that is destine to figure itself out; therefore, it seems to be better to focus on the parts that are more uncertain (such as the battery technology).

      • 7 Months Ago
      I think a lot of people bemoaning the low range of EV's just aren't capable of envisioning the future where every parking spot in existence has the potential to become a recharging point. It's probably a product of seeing gas stations here and there and thinking any future fueling network would have to be structured the same way. In the cities at least, the problem won't be the cost or location of infrastructure, it will be generating the electricity to begin with.
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Rob: Not these ones. They only operate during the day.
        • 7 Months Ago

        I was echoing the point point that fnc made "In the cities at least, the problem won't be the cost or location of infrastructure, it will be generating the electricity to begin with. "

        There are areas of the country where, during the day, the generating infrastructure is at near capacity. Adding a lot of EVs to that will only compound the problem. It's a nice though that a solar system could be used to provide the power, but the thing to consider is what happens when the grid is at max and the output of solar/wind/etc. is too low to supply the additional demand of the electric cars all wanting to charge at readily available spots. That was why I said "only be active at night".

        There are a number of initiatives to make smart homes where things like appliances are smart enough to sense that the grid is overburdened and only run at night. Is it really practical to tell the homeowner they can only do the laundry at night?
        • 7 Months Ago
        One of the arguments I hear about EVs is that there is more than enough capacity in the grid to charge EVs...at night. So, if every parking spot has a charging port will they only be active at night?

        My local utility is asking to replace its 11.5 MW coal burner with a 78 MW coal burner because they are operating at near capacity of the plant and foresee higher energy demands with things like EVs showing up demanding even more energy.
      • 7 Months Ago
      Sounds a bit easier to install than a hydrogen refueling station !
      • 7 Months Ago
      That's pretty cool to see solar-powered EV charging stations slowly being trickled onto the landscape.

      Hopefully they can find a way to retrofit/upgrade these charging stations when solutions capable of faster than the current 1.15 miles/minute (244/210) charge solutions are discovered. However, for now that's awesome to see them deploying these in parking lots.

      Now all we need is to convert the parking lots exposed to sun to "Solar Roadways" and you would have even more sun-powered energy to charge the cars with.
        • 7 Months Ago
        Yes, 240 volts @ 70 amps is pretty significant. That would fully charge the 300 mile pack in the Model S (when it comes to be) in about four and a half hours.

        My statement regarding charge time was directed towards when newer batteries are capable of charging with 240V @ 100 or more amps could these chargers handle that load or be upgraded to handle it?

        Also,I got the same number as you when it comes to charging via these units. I just expressed mine in minutes instead of hours. I stated it charged at 1.15 miles per minute. If you times that by 60 you get the number you said: 69 miles per hour of charging.

        However, my charging comment was more of "charging during a road-trip" kind of thinking. If someone wants to stop and rest for 30 minutes while on a road trip it would be nice to get another 70-100 miles on the battery pack. However, with time I am sure something like that will happen.
        • 7 Months Ago
        Read the article again, it is 240 volt 70 amp, which is quite substantial. It would be charging at a rate of about 69 miles for each hour of charging.
      • 7 Months Ago
      That's one way to solve the chicken-and-egg problem for alt-fuel cars - have the car company and the fuel company both be owned by the same person, or have similar overlapping interests.

      That's one reason I thought that one or all of the Detroit Big 3 should have bought out VeraSun and set up their own alt-fuel stations. After all if the big fear inhibiting potential buyers of profitable SUVs, minivans, pickup trucks, and performance sedans is another oil-price spike, or continued malaise lingering on as a result of 2008's oil spike, then reassure those skittish consumers by providing alt-fuel compatibility in all your cars and even go further and provide the alt-fuel stations too.
        • 7 Months Ago
        When oil was at $140 a barrel, OPEC was producing at over max capacity, the price spike was purely due to market speculation.
        • 7 Months Ago
        I can hear the anti-trust lawyers salivating alerady! :-)
        • 7 Months Ago
        Good point but they have a juicier target in OPEC. Its collusion in restraint of trade to drive up prices violates international law. And it's easy to show harm that has resulted from the price spike. Time for OPEC to be besieged with lawsuits, its higher-ups fearful of foreign travel for fear of being served or even arrested, etc.
      • 7 Months Ago
      I am really very happy to see some solar powered charging stations come online, even if they have to be buffered by the grid. It's still load taken off the grid, and/or load provided to the grid when the station is not being used.
      What does a petrol station do when not in use? It leaks into the ground.
      Also, when is the East coast going to get some electron-lovin'?
      • 7 Months Ago
      This is great news! A great way to solve the electric vehicle charging dilemma: simply set up a few charge stations powered by the sun! Looks like a good opportunity for Rabobank as well :)
      • 7 Months Ago
      Glad to see this, and just wish it would start happening on a broader scale.

      It does seem too many potential buyers of EV's worry about long-distance trips when many of them rarely make such trips, and just drive around town. For their annual long-distance vacation, they could have a second car (or rent one), or use public transport.

      Sure, people who have to drive long distances regularly simply can't switch until they can recharge just about anywhere, charge times drop, ranges increase, etc.

      I rarely go further than about a mile from my home, so I don't own even a bicycle. But were I to want a car again, I'd consider an EV.
      • 7 Months Ago
      I live in San Luis Obispo and the charger in our parking garage only supports vehicles with the older style puck charger which is only useful for the 4 electric Toyota Rav4's that drive around town. They have also been installed since I moved here 5 years ago. I don't know how it would connect to the tesla unless they are planning to retrofit it. We also have another shopping center that has a free electric vehicle charging station but it has the same connector.
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