95. Envision Solar Tree® Structure
There are over 800 million parking spaces in the U.S. and enough solar energy strikes these parking lots each day to power U.S. transportation demands three times over! In just six hours, the world’s deserts receive more energy from the sun than humans consume in a year. The installation of Solar Tree® structures is a promising industry advance; however, getting projects through entitlement fast and efficiently provides a challenge. Additionally, the serious dearth of available EV Charging Infrastructure provides an opportunity for creative technology advancement. Innovative renewables storage solutions will allow for islanded EV charging stations to operate 24 hours a day without trenches, foundations, or grid connection. The electric grid in the US is already so strained that many of us experience black and brown outs regularly due to excessive loads; this is occurring before EV’s even hit the mainstream. Renewable Energy today powers less than 1% of the EV Charging Stations in use.
The Solar Tree® structure generates 14.4 kW DC and includes optional accessories including EnvisionTrak™ solar tracking system, Enphase microinverters with power generation monitoring, EcoSense LED lighting, and six column-integrated Voltec electric vehicle chargers. The array is capable of producing enough power daily to fully charge 6 electric vehicles. Microinverters enable highly-efficient conversion from DC to AC power at each module, eliminate power production losses from shading typically seen in systems featuring a central inverter, and monitoring provided through Enphase’s Enlighten system provides the customer with real-time power production data at each PV module. Power generated by the Solar Tree® array is passed to the grid via interconnection with the local utility and a net-metering agreement achieves significant reduction in electric utility fees at the facility.
The Solar Tree® array is an ideal solution to create distinguished, sustainable real estate, and is designed to meet the needs of a variety of applications, shading vehicles from the sun, reducing carbon footprint through the production of renewable energy, and advancing the infrastructure for electric vehicles.
The EnvisionTrak™ system is a dual synchronous drive tracking system which maintains a 15° tilt while tracking the sun and is capable of generating approximately 25% more power than a non-tracking array. The unique design of the EnvisionTrak™ solution was created specifically for parking rows to align with parking spaces while maintaining drive and fire lane aisles.
Why it should be recognized:
Modern PV equipment is a proven technology that has been in use for more than 30 years. Historically, large, flat PV modules have been installed on building rooftops to generate electricity for property owners. We believe, however, that parking lots are the next frontier for solar. PV’s produce electricity at the same time of day that generation facilities are working the hardest, and when electricity prices are highest. While solar is not a “dispatchable” generation resource, its performance is highly predictable at an aggregated level, and can be coupled with energy storage devices so that delivery commitments can be met. Every time a utility places a generating facility in service, it is placing a bet on the future of the fuel prices consumed by the facility. While solar equipment is still somewhat expensive relative to traditional carbon-rich fossil fuels, the price of sunshine is essentially a risk-free bet: unlike volatile, rising fuel prices, sunlight is free. Building electric infrastructure into parking lots allows for potential retrofitting of electric vehicle charging stations. Not only might this someday allow utilities to serve additional customers, but some researchers believe it could also provide utilities with additional peak capacity – by allowing utilities to draw on large parking lots of electric vehicles. Wide deployment of renewable energy facilities will serve to reduce greenhouse gases, which is vitally important in mitigating global warming.