Summer has a way of changing people’s habits. When the heat is on, people tend to go out of their way to seek respite from the sun’s simmering rays. Extreme temperatures can send drivers, typically known as being extremely competitive for the closest possible parking spot, headed for a space under a tree, even if it is a good 200 yards away from the mall entrance. A new product from Envision Solar could be changing the landscape of public parking, both literally and figuratively, for the better. The company, which is well into the business of providing solar power generating parking structures, recently announced a miniature version of its “Solar Tree” structure has been completely designed, engineered and fabricated and may headed to a parking space near you.
The new structure, called the “Socket“, is a lot like Envision’s “Solar Tree” in that a “trunk”-like base supports a “canopy” of solar panels that generates electricity while adding the benefit of providing shade for any vehicles that might sit below it. Also like the Solar Tree, the Socket uses the company’s proprietary tracking technology which keeps the tree’s solar panels trained on the sun throughout the day, enhancing its power generation efficiency while providing consistent shade. Where the Socket differs is that it is a bit smaller, intended for one vehicle, and is available with an integrated EV charging station. Envision says that one Socket can generate approximately enough power per day to charge one EV or plug-in hybrid.
Envision solar has installed its full sized Solar Tree structures in several corporate parking lots, perhaps the most notable of which is the company’s installation at Dell headquarters in Round Rock, Texas. It has also partnered with GM in a deal that will see Solar Trees installed at GM’s corporate and dealership locations nationwide. With the advent of the Socket, Envision Solar appears to be targeting just about anyone that might want an EV charging station that doesn’t depend on the grid for its power-car dealerships, public agencies, utility companies, shopping centers, individual homeowners, you name it.
The first Socket is said by Envision to be headed to an undisclosed location in Northern California. Pricing information on the socket and/or estimated installation costs have not been provided.