The parking lot between a SunTrust bank and a gas station is the newest location to charge an electric vehicle (EV) in Bethesda, Md. Although not the first EV charging station to be installed in Montgomery County, the Solar Power Pole is the first sun-tracking solar-powered electric vehicle charger manufactured and assembled in Maryland.
Designed to charge two vehicles at a time, the Solar Power Pole system consists of a 1.41-kilowatt, six-panel PV array mounted atop an 18-foot-tall pole. The system uses GPS-based tracking technology to follow the sun throughout the day, yielding efficiency gains of 30-45 percent over a fixed solar array, according to manufacturer Advanced Technology & Research (ATR). The pole-mount design keeps the system’s curbside footprint small, making it suitable for placement in urban and densely populated areas.
Columbia., Md.-based ATR says the grid-tied Solar Power Pole system produces an average of 7.5 kilowatt-hours per day. Information on the system’s production and power supply to EVs is monitored and can be viewed by the system owner over the internet.
Whatever power is not used to charge an electric vehicle is fed back onto the electric grid, earning renewable energy credits under Maryland’s solar energy production incentive. The system also qualifies for federal and state rebates as a renewable energy generator. Plus, Maryland offers a tax credit for electric vehicle purchases, and aims to generate 20 percent of its electricity from renewable resources by 2022.
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