San Diego Zoo Goes Solar

Joanna Schroeder

The San Diego Zoo has gone solar. It’s Solar-to-EV-project, in partnership with Smart City San Diego, is run by San Diego Gas & Electric (SDGR&E). The solar system is comprised of Kyocera Solar photovoltaic (PV) solar panels. All Kyocera solar panels used in this project were manufactured in the U.S. at the company’s San Diego facility.

“Kyocera is celebrating 41 years in San Diego, and 37 years as a leader in solar energy solutions,” said Steve Hill, president of Kyocera Solar, Inc. “We’re proud to work with other San Diego companies that are equally committed to making sustainable energy a reality, especially at one of the most well-known landmarks in the country.”

Ten solar canopies, designed and installed by Independent Energy Solutions (IES), produce 90 kilowatts (kW) of energy, or enough to power 59 homes, as well as five EV charging stations, including one in a nearby ADA-accessible parking space.

One feature of this system, that varies from most currently operating systems, is that while electric vehicles (EVs) are being charged in the Zoo’s parking lot by the solar power, and then the remaining solar energy goes to the electrical grid, a high-tech battery system stores solar power for future use. Today, most solar systems do not have the ability to store energy for later use.

Using lithium-polymer battery technology, its 100-kW energy storage system is charged by the solar canopies to offset demand on the electrical grid and recharge EVs after sunset. When the battery is full, excess energy generated from sunlight is put into the grid to improve reliability and benefit the surrounding community. The solar canopies also provide shade to approximately 50 cars in the Zoo’s southeast parking area.

Linda Strand, president and CEO of IES added, “This project showcases how energy storage, electric vehicle charging and solar energy can be successfully integrated, providing benefits to the public while remaining environmentally sound.”

Alternative energy, Electric Vehicles, Electricity, Energy, Solar