• Aug 23rd 2010 at 10:01AM
  • 25
Outpost Solar Electric Car Charging Station – Click above for high-res image gallery

With Nissan all set to bring the Leaf electric vehicle (EV) to life near Nashville (technically, Smyrna) in the coming years, it makes sense for people in Tennessee to start laying a plug-in groundwork. That's just what happened in Pulaski, TN, where a solar parking lot – that is, parking spaces with an electric vehicle charger that is powered by solar energy – opened earlier this month. The 20 kW solar array is the first such EV station in the Southeast say the people behind the project, Richland, LLC. Company president Jim Greene told local TV station WSMV:
We think that we're the first one in the southeast. We wanted to show that a company and a community can be forward-thinking and can be cutting-edge and still enjoy the benefits of a small, rural town.
The station cost $180,000, most of which came from federal and state funds. The station is now open to anyone with a plug-in vehicle and it won't be the only place in the area where Leaf drivers can get a charge. Similar solar stations will open soon in Nashville and Chattanooga, and 14 more are scheduled to open in Tennessee in the next three years. You can watch a video of the opening here.



[Source: WSMV]

PRESS RELEASE

First Parking Area Solar Array with Electric Vehicle Charging Capacity is Commissioned in an Unlikely Place

Pulaski, Tenn., August 4, 2010 – The Southeast's first parking area solar array with integrated electric vehicle (EV) charging capacity began to generate over 20kW of electricity on August 4, 2010, at 10:00 am, in Pulaski, Tennessee. After remarks highlighting American energy independence and job creation, Congressman Lincoln Davis switched on the array, sending the sun's energy into the grid. Located at Richland, LLC in Pulaski, Tenn., this solar array represents the first step in a growing EV charging network. The parking array produces enough energy to run nearly four typical American homes and is an integral part to the success of EVs. The system uses a new charging station from EV-Charge America which features two level one plugs and two level two, J1772 plugs, designed to charge the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf.

"As EVs like the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt hit the market soon, a network of charging stations like these are important to the vehicles' success," said Wilson Stevenson, President of Outpost Solar. Richland, LLC, one of Inc. Magazine's 5000 fastest growing companies for the last three years, has made the investment in the solar array. "I invite everyone to come down and see what the future of modern parking lots will look like," Jim Greene P.E., President of Richland, LLC said. "We wanted to show that a company and a community can be cutting-edge and forward thinking, while still enjoying the benefits of a rural community," Greene said.

The commissioning ceremony featured remarks from Congressman Lincoln Davis, Pulaski Mayor Dan Speer, Pulaski Electric System President Wes Kelly and Tennessee Energy Policy Director Ryan Gooch. "All the components are American made," Greene said. "Products like Outpost Solar's Parking Area Solar Array are one example of how American small business and manufacturing are growing in the new 'green economy.' Outpost Solar is showing how emerging technology and job growth take place in small-town America, not just big cities," Greene said. This project was made possible with cooperation of the State of Tennessee, the USDA, Pulaski Electric System and TVA.

Outpost Solar is a Middle-Tennessee based company that provides creative solutions for solar energy implementation ranging from deployable off-grid generation systems, designed for military and recovery operations, to electric vehicle infrastructure solutions and array systems that generate a megawatt or more. Outpost Solar provides its clients with the necessary expertise to assess power needs and maximize the return on investment. Outpost Solar's staff provides the full range of solar power project services to include: design, build, installation, financing and incentive optimization, for projects of any size or application
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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 25 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Ohhhh, Pulaski! I've ALWAYS wanted to spend 5 hours or so while my EV charges next to a series of propane tanks outside of Pulaski Tennessee!
      • 4 Years Ago
      It nice to see this station actually goes up. About a year ago I wrote an article about the Nissan Leaf and suggested that SERSEVS (Solar Energy Recharge Station for Electronic Vehicles) could be set up along the highways and at hotels etc. See article here as titled: "SERSEV the Leaf" on the Muffin Post.

      http://themuffinpost.com/2009/08/10/sersev-the-leaf/
      • 5 Years Ago
      Hmm....lets see....

      20kw x 24 hrs x 1/3 x 365 days = 58,400 kwh per year (fairly optimistic I suspect)

      $180,000 mortgaged over five years at 5% interest = $14,443.67 per year.

      $14,443.67 / 58,400 kwh ~ 25 cents per kwh.

      Assume ~3 miles per kwh (after charging losses and assuming some HVAC useage) = 175,200 miles of travel per year.

      $14,443.67 / 175,200 ~ 8.25 cents per mile.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "180,000 mortgaged over five years at 5% interest "

        Oops ... thats twenty years.
      • 5 Years Ago
      this is good in two ways... it provides much needed shade for your car, while charging it up. Perfect for while you are in your office during sunny hours, or while you're shopping, etc (if you don't work during the day).

      Standalone they don't make sense, but hooked into the grid/adjacent buildings, they do since then they would have a backup for evening/night use. Might as well make use of that sunshine...
        • 5 Years Ago
        "Standalone they don't make sense, but hooked into the grid/adjacent buildings, they do"

        Absolutely. All solar systems should be grid-tied unless they are powering some cabin out in the middle of nowhere with connection to the grid.
      • 2 Years Ago
      I am an extreme proponent of the Electric Vehicle Program and I have been doing research on the charging station program for 3 years. The alarming information that I have discovered will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. Our emergency responders are not being trained on how to handle an emergency situation and there were no plans in place to do so. Every time a charging station is installed the danger increases and the charging station industry has failed to disclose these known dangers to each city and county they install these appliances. Our emergency responders have no clue on how to disable a charging station that has been involved in an accident and with the lack of education it puts them at serious risk of electrocution. Recently in California, a driver slammed into a light pole and fire hydrant and two good Samaritans did not see the exposed wires underneath the car and were electrocuted with 13 other citizens injured trying to help the driver. What is so alarming is these charging stations carry the same voltage as a light pole and they are being installed on our city streets at an alarming rate, some within feet from the street. We need to demand that our Fire Fighters are properly trained, call your local fire chief and ask about training and as a taxpayer, let them know your do not feel safe with charging station installed and no safety training. I found one company called Greenstar Concepts that offers safety training to emergency responders and I contacted the owner and he was so frustrated at the way the industry has down played this known problem. He told me he contacted the Federal Government (DOE,NFPA, Homeland Security) and was told “training was something not on their radar” and that “There are no funds available to train our emergency responders.” We need to do something about this swiftly before someone gets hurt or killed.
      BipDBo
      • 5 Years Ago
      Practically speaking, car charging is really not the best application for solar. Solar would be best used in an application where it is needed consistently during the same time that the sun is up. Serving general power for a commercial building is a good example. Since the interior lights and air conditioning are on all day, solar can be used all day. Skylights with optical sensors and intellegent lighting systems are becoming much more widely used. This can offset a lot lighting power much more cheaply, but not all of it.

      Perhaps the worst application for solar is on the roof of a house to be used to charge an electric car. Typically, the owner of an electric vehicle would leave for work during the day, turn off all the lights in the house and offset their thermostat, which probably cools a pretty well insulated house. During the day, the solar cells only have the load of the refrigerator, and a very small intermittant cooling load. Electricity can be sold back back to the grid, but at a lower price than it is bought.

      Even in an application such as this installation in TN, usage maybe pretty intermittant for the foreseeable future. Hopefully this installation is wired such that it can provide power to an adjacent building or back into the grid. If so, they may wind up sending only a small part of the energy to car batteries. Also, it would probably need to be able to draw electricity to it from the grid in the case that charging demand is very high.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @BipDBo
        "Electricity can be sold back back to the grid, but at a lower price than it is bought."

        Interestingly, Tennessee is one of only 4 states that does not have a net metering law. However, most electric meters are bi-directional, meaning they simply spin backwards if power is being sent to the grid. In order to charge more in one direction and credit less in the other, the utility would have to install a smart meter, and since states are adopting net metering laws 'right and left', I doubt they'd bother.
        BipDBo
        • 5 Years Ago
        @BipDBo
        When I read this article, it seemed that there is not much electric use on this site to consume, and that extra energy is sold back to the grid. I may be wrong, but I believe that in most places, you can sell the electricity back to the grid, but for less than you can buy it. This probably varies per all over.

        @Geronimo & nottoosmart
        Looking at the link, I think that the box does house batteries. It is paired with solar cells and can "come fully charged." In my view, battery storage for solar systems is a waste of money. Even lead based batteries are expensive, and need to be replaced in a much shorter time than the cells. Even if your sell back price is lower than the purchase price for the electricity, I have got to think that the battery storage systems would not likely pay themselves off before they need replacement. Environmentally, I see no benefit to them. They simply add footprint to the whole system due to increased manufacturing. Keep it simple. Just dump the juice back into the grid.

        @nottoosmart
        Building solar can offset the building of other power sources such coal, but only in certain regions. Our power production and distribution systems are designed around peak load. In Florida, where heat is primarily electric resistance, that peak load happens at night in the winter, when solar cells are useless. Up north, heat is mostly from fossils fuels, so peak electric use may be in the middle of summer. In Tennesee, there is a mix of fossil fuel and electric, so who knows? Also, as electric vehicles will mostly be charged in owners' homes, at night. Therefore, as they increase in number, they may put much more of an operational strain on Southern states than they do in Northern states. Either way, generally speaking, their demand does not tend to correspond closely to the generation from solar cells.

        I believe that solar cells and electric cars are paired together not because of good engineering, but rather because they both appeal to the same customers.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @BipDBo
        @Bip-D-Bo
        "Hopefully this installation is wired such that it can provide power to an adjacent building or back into the grid."

        Indeed.
        http://wpln.org/?p=19619
        • 5 Years Ago
        @BipDBo
        Nothing wrong with the PV & EV combo. In that 2nd paragraph, the electricity is going to power other buildings, not the EV. But the EV gets the power it 'loaned' out during the day back at night from the utility to charge the EV. Net metering. Everyone benefits. The net PV output covers the EV charging. And the utility gets nice supplemental peak power from the PV system when it is most needed.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @BipDBo
        @Bip-D-Bo:
        You're thinking but not far enough. I would suspect that the container houses the converters and loads of batteries. You can charge an EV at this station anytime as long as there is some juice left in those packs. Besides that, the station could feed into the grid and the batteries serve as a perfect buffer. What we need is an intelligent grid and intelligent managers and (politicians?) to push on to this goal.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @BipDBo
        @Geronimo
        That container is for remote power needs. It was probably there for demonstration purposes only. See the link below for info.

        http://www.outpostsolar.com/outpost-solar-mobile-solar-systems.html
        • 5 Years Ago
        @BipDBo
        @Bip-D-Bo
        If there is already a connection to the grid then a grid-tied solar system is the most economical. No costly storage system is required. If there is need for power elsewhere on the site, the electricity automatically goes there. Electricity is funny that way.

        Agreed, economics are important. You just aren't looking at the big picture. If the government can convince enough people to install grid-tied solar systems on their houses with a few measly incentives, then they can avoid or postpone construction of peak power plants. Since many power plants are funded by government, that is a huge saving. For the average homeowner or business the financial benefits are debatable.
        BipDBo
        • 5 Years Ago
        @BipDBo
        So they are sending extra energy back to the grid. That is good, but economically speaking, it would be much better to send it to another use on the same site, because you can save more money by using less energy from the grid than you can by selling it back.

        Economics is very important when it eventually comes to the question of wether more will be built. If a system like this reflects measely savings on the power bill, politicians and business owners will not likely repeat such large financial investments, regardless of environmental concerns.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @BipDBo
        In the press release as well.

        "Congressman Lincoln Davis switched on the array, sending the sun's energy into the grid."

        Missed it while skimming through.
      • 5 Years Ago
      cool! now, somebody please make one of these small enough for my house.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Just call your local solar installer. They'll give you a quote for a solar system that will provide you with power that can charge your EV.

        If you use energy efficiently and live in an area that gets good sun, you can easily meet your home & EV's net electricity requirements with solar panels mounted on your roof. It won't be cheap. But if you are a DIYer, you could do it yourself and it will pay for itself eventually.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wow, the birthplace of the KKK leading us into the future of EVs....maybe there is hope for the human race after all.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Remember, Nissan is based in TN.
      • 5 Years Ago
      They only have 2 level 2 chargers. If demand is as high as you've indicated, you may have to use 120V and could be there a bit longer than anticipated :)
      • 4 Years Ago
      So...can this thing do the Fast Charge, aka Level 3 charge??? As in, charge the car to 80% in 30 minutes? I still think 30 minutes is too long...we need them to be able to charge in 5 minutes. But I was just wondering if this is enough power to do the fast charge. Anybody better at the math than me, to figure that out? :)

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_car#Charging
      • 5 Years Ago
      Don't worry, those are hydrogen tanks! Go over their and have a smoke.
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