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Solar-Powered EV Chargers Go Where Grid-Tied Stations Can’t

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While you can build a gas station pretty much anywhere zoning codes allow, electric vehicle fast-charging stations need to be placed in close proximity to dedicated service transformers to support their heavy draw from the grid. Access to that type of infrastructure isn’t always available in rural areas, which means that large swaths of California have few public charging stations, if there are any at all. Electrify America is filling in the service gaps with off-grid electric vehicle charging stations powered only by the sun.

The national EV charging network announced today it added eight solar-powered charging stations in under-served areas in California. EV ARC stations are freestanding Level 2 chargers that don’t need to be tied to the power grid to work. Rather, they’re equipped with a 4.28-kilowatt (kW) sun-tracking solar array and 32kWh of on-board battery storage. They generate 100% of its stored electricity from its solar panels and can operate even at night or during power outages to charge two vehicles simultaneously at a speed of 3.3 kw.

“In rural areas of California there isn’t always the infrastructure available for charging stations,” explains Nina Huesgen, senior manager at Electrify America. “Providing this access to charging can increase the confidence of local EV drivers in need of public charging options.”

Although 8% of new vehicle sales in California were EVs in 2019, rural areas have only half a percent of penetration, according to Envision Solar, which manufactures the EV ARC stations.

Electrify America is positioning eight solar powered stations in easily-accessible public locations in Fresno County with plans to install 30 in rural and economically disadvantaged areas of California by the end of 2020. These stations are free and open to the public, and are meant for “opportunity