Electric Vehicles + Solar Power Make Thomas Edison Smile

Many energy experts agree that for electric vehicles [EVs] to make faster inroads into reducing the use of foreign oil for traditional gasoline powered cars, there needs to be an infrastructure that will allow for charging EVs while they are parked. Stations located near shopping centers, places of work, and well-traveled areas would be ideal. Imagine driving to work and plugging your EV in at a convenient parking spot, assured you can make it home easily that evening; but wouldn’t it be even way more energy cool to charge your EV using electricity from the sun?

At Dell’s headquarters in Round Rock, Texas, a new shaded 50 car solar parking structure called the Solar Grove can re-charge EVs. The structure was built by Envision Solar, and fully operational should help avoid about 145,000 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year. Check it out here and in the photo below.

Dell’s Parking Lot for Solar Charging of EVs

Dell’s Parking Lot for Solar Charging of EVs

Recently, Bethesda MD implemented a new solar charging station (see photo below), the sixth such facility now operational in Montgomery County. Able to charge two vehicles at a time, this 1,410-watt facility uses a sun-tracking solar array. The system is manufactured by Advanced Technology & Research Corp. (ATR). The charging station would allow drivers of electric vehicles to pull up, swipe a plastic card and plug in their vehicles to be charged. Rob Lundahl, vice president, automation systems for ATR, said an hour of charging will yield roughly 20 miles of travel time for most vehicles. The cost for the system, according to Lundahl, is in the $20,000 range.

Solar Charging Station In Bethesda, MD

Solar Charging Station In Bethesda, MD

Take a look below at what Honda is trying in three cities in Japan to premier its solar charging stations for EVs. The program isn’t just for electric vehicles, but also plug-in hybrid vehicles, electric scooters, and electric carts. Honda will monitor how effective the charging station is at generating electricity, and ways to improve the convenience and usability of the charging station for customers.

Honda Solar Charging Station in Japan

Honda Solar Charging Station in Japan

Of course, you also can install your own solar charging station on the roof of your house or garage and charge your car when the sun is out as well! What would Thomas Edison, famed EV pioneer and storage battery developer, have thought of this? Well, here is his famous early 1900s quote about alternate technologies – “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power. I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that. I wish I had more years left.”

That settles it!


EDITOR’S DEEP DIVE

Thomas Edison on Time Magazine

“The thing with which I lose patience most is the clock.  It’s hands move too fast.

Time ® is a registered trademark of Time Inc.

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Solar Power for the Military

The U.S. military is going green, in a big way and across a wide variety of applications. Military higher-ups plan to rely on renewable energy sources for 50 percent of their power by 2020, which could help the worldwide advancement of those technologies immeasurably. Many front line commanders see fossil fuels as a drain on their resources and a severe limitation to their capabilities. Renewable technologies offer a solution right now. The high casualty rate of soldiers who accompany fuel convoys is a big motivation for switching to renewables now in combat areas.

U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus is pushing biofuels for fighter jets, naval vessels, hybrid electric drives for ships and renewable energy systems for combat Marines. The military is playing a big part in helping the country reduce its dependence upon expensive oil. On its maiden voyage from Mississippi to San Diego, the U.S.S. Makin Island, the first hybrid naval vessel, saved 900,000 gallons of fuel.

U.S.S. Makin Island

U.S.S. Makin Island

At traditional encampment sites, renewable replacements to typical diesel or kerosene fueled equipment includes portable solar panels; energy-conserving lights; solar tent shields for shade and electricity; and solar chargers for communications equipment. There is less need for noisy, expensive, energy consuming portable generators. Some 30% of all the fuel trucked into Afghanistan is needed to power all those on-site computer terminals, laptops and many other assorted electronic gear that makes the military so lethal. But that fuel effectively costs about $45 per gallon to truck in and protect. Renewable energy systems turn out to be much cheaper.

Solar Panels at Work in Afghanistan

Solar Panels at Work in Afghanistan

A typical Marine carries 100 pounds of supplies. About 20% of the weight a Marine carries is for extra batteries to power electronic devices. Using batteries recharged by the sun makes that Marine able to carry more ammunition and supplies, and fight longer and farther.

Concept for Soldier Wearing Flexible Photovoltaic Cells for Battery Charging

Concept for Soldier Wearing Flexible Photovoltaic Cells for Battery Charging

Renewable energy use is not confined to just fighting men and women, or deployed combat systems. Military bases are significant energy users as well and can benefit enormously by reducing their fossil fuel use via renewable energy systems. Here the solar, wind, photovoltaics and geothermal heating/cooling systems we associate with traditional renewable applications in residential and commercial size structures is perfectly applicable and being used.

Editor’s Deep Dive:

Editor’s Note:
During World War I, Thomas Edison headed the U.S. Navy Consulting Board and contributed forty-five inventions, including substitutes for previously imported chemicals, defensive instruments against U-boats, a ship telephone system, an underwater searchlight, smoke screen machines, anti-torpedo nets, navigating equipment, and methods of aiming and firing naval guns. After the war he helped establish the Naval Research Laboratory, the only American organized weapons research institution until World War II . And speaking of World War II, Edison’s son Charles was Secretary of the Navy under FDR. Charles was responsible for development of the famous PT boats and the legendary Iowa class battleships which included the U.S.S. New Jersey, the longest serving and most decorated battleship— the “Big J.” (as decades of sailors serving in four wars affectionately called her). Charles’s wife Carolyn launched the famed ship on December 7th, 1942, one year after Pearl Harbor.Thomas Edison on Time Magazine

“I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”

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Solar Panels: Google® goes Green and Petra Solar® gets Creative

The rising popularity of solar energy panels attests that something new and different is permeating our energy mix. These panels, technically known as photovoltaic energy converters, take incoming sunlight and quietly produce clean electricity for direct use. Invented at Bell labs in 1954 and first used in the space program of the 1950s and 60s, these panels now are being used on homes, schools, municipal buildings and commercial structures.

Google also has integrated solar panels into their massive, multi-building, Mountain View , California campus. There, about 9,000 solar panels will use the sun’s energy to provide about 30% of their peak electrical use. Check out this interesting website and short video to see how Google is becoming one of the greenest corporations on the planet. Shown here is a portion of the panels installed on Google’s campus.

One particularly ingenious application by Petra Solar of South Plainfield, New Jersey, involves mounting solar panels on utility poles and connecting the electrical output directly into the secondary wires of the utility electrical system. Installed by local utility company bucket truck work crews, these panel systems, known as SunWave, are a quick and economic way to bring megawatt size distributed generation to utility grids. This work by Petra Solar  is a revolutionary new application, capable of being used immediately and worldwide and interfacing to the smart utility grid of the future. Visit their website and see some videos there.

As we watch the rapid evolution of the solar industry, it is most interesting to recall that Edison was a big proponent of alternate energy forms. Shortly before his death, in 1931, Edison was advocating the use of solar energy …

Imagine what he could have done had he lived longer. He would love to see Petra Solar’s      integration of solar panels directly into a utility system. After all it was Edison who gave us the utility system in the first place!

“I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.” ~ Thomas Edison Quote

Time ®, Google ® and Petra Solar ® are registered trademarks of their respective companies.

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