‘Solar Tree’ Carports and EV charging stations installed in USA rollout

Envision Solar International’s ‘Solar Tree’ PV mounting and tracking system will be deployed nationwide in all outdoor car parks for a major US department store chain.

The name of the company was not disclosed in a recent press release but was revealed to be “a major retailer with stores and corporate facilities nationwide” which commissioned Envision Solar’s services “as part of its continuing efforts to protect and conserve the environment through solutions that provide long-term sustainability”.

The Solar Tree Array is a 35-foot square solar PV array fitted with 16.5W of PV modules, large enough to cover between 6–8 car parking spaces. Envision Solar also offer a smaller and more modular Solar Tree Socket unit, which can be fitted with 2.5–3.3 kW of PV modules and covers one parking space.

A notable advantage of the Solar Tree technology compared to other recent PV installations at open-air car parks is the fully-integrated tracking system which continuously tilts the solar panel array towards the direction of the sun. This feature optimises the amount of electricity produced by the solar PV system on any given day and is quoted to generate 18–25% more electricity than a conventional fixed PV array.

However, what may turn out to be the biggest selling point for Envision Solar’s products are the electric vehicle (EV) charging stations fitted to the Solar Tree units. Each Solar Tree Array will generate enough electricity to power up to 800 km of driving for one vehicle per day, with the intention of supplying that electricity to the department store’s expanding fleet of electric vehicles as well as its customers and staff who use electric vehicles. Any excess electricity will be used onsite to reduce the amount of electricity drawn from the local electricity grid.

Solar Tree EV ChargingAn electric vehicle being charged by an Envision Solar ‘EV ARC’ charging station. Image credit: Envision Solar.

The integration of charging stations into the solar PV mounting structures may be a game-changer for the already-suitable partnership between solar PV and electric vehicles (EV).

The deployment of solar PV arrays and EV charging stations at major outdoor car parks would likely make recharging an electric vehicle as easy as filling up a gas tank and also removes the need to commission separate sites for charging stations. As such, innovations such as and including the Solar Tree mounting and charging stations could prove to be a boon for greater PV and EV uptake all across Australia.

High-profile solar PV installations in car parks across Australia include Townsville Airport and Sydney Markets. However, there is clearly much potential to further expand the list.

Top Image Credit: Envision Solar

© 2014 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

John Rodriguez

John regularly contributes original technology articles to Solar Choice News. He is a PhD candidate in solar PV engineering at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), having graduated with First Class Honours in a Bachelor of Engineering (UNSW, specialising in PV). His knowledge of and passion for renewables technology led to him receiving the federally-funded Australian Postgraduate Award and Engineering Research Award for research excellence, in addition to being a Co-operative Program scholar during his undergraduate studies. John also works as an energy efficiency and process engineer and analyst.
John Rodriguez