San Diego Zoo gets wild with EV-charging carports

San Diego Zoo project solar PV carportThe San Diego Zoo is putting in a little something to make the animals go wild, solar EV-charging parking structures. The parking structures will allow EV owners to charge their vehicles while enjoying a day at the zoo.

Once installed, the zoo will have 10 solar canopies and five EV charging stations, covering about 50 parking spaces. The carports will produce 90 kilowatts of electricity, as well as five EV charging stations and will incorporate at a 100 kilowatt battery storage system. The canopies will charge the battery and the power will be used to charge vehicles when they are parked there, and when they’re not, the power will feed into the grid.

It’s anticipated that by 2020 San Diego could see more than 200,000 plug-in EVs. “In the San Diego region we have about 1,700  already,” said San Diego Gas & Electric’s Plug-in Electric Vehicle Manager April Bolduc, which is a partnership of San Diego, SDG&E, GE, UC San Diego and CleanTECH San Diego. “We’re trying to prepare our infrastructure now, so when we do see that number, we’ll be ready. Especially for a place like the San Diego Zoo, when you have a a destination spot,” she said.

That way visitors to the zoo can charge their EV while touring the zoo. “You’ll have a pass card, people can sign up online. You wave the pass card in front of the charger,” Bolduc said. The pass card will allow them to charge the vehicle and will charge their credit card or bank for the purchase of the electricity.

The collaboration behind Smart City San Diego is working on clean energy and energy reduction projects in San Diego. “We try to drive projects forward to improve the regions’ energy independence and reduce greenhouse gas,” Bolduc said. “We’re doing a whole bunch of different types of things like using smart appliances, economic development and working on policy leadership.”

It brings together government, businesses, and nonprofits. “We’re trying to maximize those synergies.” The organization works in a number of sectors, including commercial and residential programs.