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San Diego Zoo's Solar-to-EV Project

Ten Canopies of Kyocera Solar Panels

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By Swagato Chakravorty
Thursday, December 13th, 2012

The San Diego Zoo will soon feature the latest in solar technology, courtesy of Kyocera Solar Inc.

San Diego Gas & Electric (PINK: SDOGP) is overseeing the Zoo’s “Solar-To-EV” project, which it is undertaking jointly with Smart City San Diego. Part of the project involves a new 90-kW solar panel canopy that can charge electric vehicles, and it’s these photovoltaic solar panels that Kyocera is manufacturing right here in the U.S.

It’s a fairly radical step for zoos in general, but it makes perfect sense. The panels store up solar power in the Zoo’s expansive parking lot and provide the electrical grid with this stored-up power.

The system’s battery management component stores additional solar power for off-hour usage.

Vista Independent Energy Solutions is to design and set in place ten such canopies, and the power they’ll produce is adequate for around 59 households. The system relies on the latest in lithium-ion battery technology.

Along with all this, the Zoo will get 5 EV charging stations, but don’t forget the basics—the canopies also offer shade to the 50 or so cars that can squeeze into the parking lot.

From PV Magazine:

"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."

San Diego’s “Smart City San Diego” program has brought together an interesting mix of universities, local companies, and even government initiatives to try and boost the city’s clean tech profile.

This is certainly a step in the right direction; the Solar-To-EV project, for example, represents environmental improvements equivalent to clearing the atmosphere of 189,216 pounds of CO2 annually. Or, you know, you could go plant 2,788 trees a year. Your choice.

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