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Green solar vehicle charging station generates 5 kW of solar power

The city of Lansing, Michigan has announced the opening of the first municipality-owned solar powered electric vehicle charging station in the country. The charging station, which is installed at the riverside City Market, has an angled roof acting as both the solar panel and a carport to protect vehicles underneath.

The charging station generates 5 kW of solar energy for charging vehicles. The solar power gathered by the charging station also operates the LED lighting for the signs and banners on the charging station. The charging station is designed to be 100% waterproof and fully wind, snow, and seismic code compliant.
"We are committed to helping cities across America deliver on their citizens' dreams of a green tomorrow", said Sass M. Peress, CEO of renewz. "Built right in the heart of the city which will soon assemble the Cadillac ELR hybrid electric vehicle, this solar canopy was constructed in just a few days. It clearly demonstrates how municipalities can power green fleets sustainably."

The charging station is intended to generate clean and renewable energy to recharge the fleet of Lansing Board of Water & Light electric vehicles. The city says the solar charging station will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 115 tons and power more than 300,000 miles of clean driving.

Source: Giulio Barbieri

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Note the Sky in the Background
By DaveLessnau on 5/6/2013 10:44:37 AM , Rating: 2
A solar charging station in Michigan (the water, winter wonderland). Just take a look at the sky in the background of the article's picture. It's fully overcast. It tends to do that a lot in Michigan (I used to live there). I wonder how much this charging station cost and how much the generated electricity will cost with the station's cost prorated over it's lifetime.

RE: Note the Sky in the Background
By DaveLessnau on 5/6/2013 11:15:02 AM , Rating: 2
According to:

This thing cost $60,000. The search results I generate are now swamped by the press release, so I can't easily find real information instead of blather. I guess I'll have to give a wild stab of 10 years for lifespan. Without considering time value of money, interest charges, or anything intelligent, call it $6,000 per year.

According to the calculator here:

a 5 kW solar panel in Lansing, MI should generate 5621 kWh/year worth $715.16 @ 12.7 cents per kWh:

"PVWATTS v.2: AC Energy and Cost Savings"

"Station Identification"
"Cell ID:","0248365"
"Lat (deg N):", 42.78
"Long (deg W):", -84.60
"PV System Specifications"
"DC Rating:"," 5.0 kW"
"DC to AC Derate Factor:"," 0.770"
"AC Rating:"," 3.8 kW"
"Array Type: Fixed Tilt"
"Array Tilt:"," 42.9"
"Array Azimuth:","180.0"

"Energy Specifications"
"Cost of Electricity:","12.7 cents/kWh"

"Month", "Solar Radiation (kWh/m^2/day)", "AC Energy (kWh)", "Energy Value ($)"
1, 2.55, 316, 40.20
2, 3.43, 381, 48.47
3, 4.41, 530, 67.43
4, 5.02, 561, 71.38
5, 5.51, 612, 77.86
6, 5.65, 591, 75.19
7, 5.69, 606, 77.10
8, 5.39, 577, 73.41
9, 4.98, 531, 67.56
10, 3.76, 427, 54.33
11, 2.32, 263, 33.46
12, 1.89, 227, 28.88
"Year", 4.22, 5621, 715.16

Sorry for the (lack of) formatting and for my monkey-smart interpretation of what to enter into the calculator and my interpretation of the results. But, as near as I can see, Michigan taxpayers are paying about 10 times the going rate for electricity to generate it via these solar panels.

I'd appreciate it if someone who actually knew what they were doing could provide better information.

RE: Note the Sky in the Background
By Mint on 5/6/2013 11:45:13 AM , Rating: 1
The big question here is what the marginal cost was. If you're building a charging station and want a shelter like most gas stations, then the additional cost is just the solar panels and electronics, some of which would already be present with the charger.

So that $60k figure isn't really enough to determine if the solar part was worth it. I suspect it isn't, but can't say for sure.

At this point, we're talking about very low volumes and functional demonstration projects, so it doesn't really matter either way.

RE: Note the Sky in the Background
By DaveLessnau on 5/6/2013 12:44:38 PM , Rating: 2
Still, there's the assumption that the Lansing government made a choice between building a sheltered charging station fed via the grid or fed via solar. Most likely, the cheapest and best project was to buy a standard car and stick it in the existing parking lot.

Also, there's the assumption that a municipal government (or, really, any government level) should be in the business of doing functional demonstration projects. Governments should be doing things like providing public safety, security, and (locally, at least) education. They shouldn't be using the public till to push supposed green-power (especially when that government is in a financial world of hurt -- which, I believe, the state of Michigan and the city of Lansing both are in). That's something that the marketplace is supposed to work out.

RE: Note the Sky in the Background
By DaveLessnau on 5/6/2013 1:37:55 PM , Rating: 2
Also, I think what's really sticking in my craw here is that supposed-green trumps finances in every case. Back in the day, when we proposed new projects (this was computer stuff in the military), we had to do all kinds of life-cycle cost comparisons against multiple options. Usually, as competing options, everyone picked the status quo (can't perform the mission, though -- sorry), the option they wanted, and blue-sky (see, our choice is cheap). But, if my numbers are anywhere near correct, there's no way that even a cursory look at costs could justify this. Heck, as I noted, it doesn't even look like the thing can actually charge cars as they need them to be charged (i.e., perform the mission). So, someone, somewhere decided to push a "green" agenda regardless of the facts, stick it to both the taxpayers and the poor shmucks who have to charge their boondoggle cars, and HE GETS AWAY WITH IT. Who's going to be the first against the wall for this?

RE: Note the Sky in the Background
By Mint on 5/7/2013 4:57:44 AM , Rating: 2
I don't support solar and wind for cost reasons (it goes beyond LCOE), but with EVs/PHEVs, there have been plenty of life-cycle analyses that support them.

For this particular charging station, your own math proves that it isn't standalone. It's a grid based charger with a solar panel on top. It doesn't have a cost of zero without the solar panels. It should be maybe $15k for the solar panels and inverter, and they should last 20+ years. The other $45k would be for the structure and installation.

Again, you're talking about one station from one municipality. You're being unfair in tarring every government's assessment of every green project from this.

RE: Note the Sky in the Background
By Ammohunt on 5/6/2013 11:45:49 AM , Rating: 2
Michigan taxpayers are paying about 10 times the going rate for electricity to generate it via these solar panels.

But isn't that worth it in order to save gaia?

RE: Note the Sky in the Background
By DaveLessnau on 5/6/2013 12:13:38 PM , Rating: 2
Intercourse gaia

By DaveLessnau on 5/6/2013 12:57:41 PM , Rating: 2
Oopsie. Before anyone blows a gasket, I, like Ammohunt, neglected my smiley. So, please, consider my Mother Earth MILF comment, above to be properly smilified.

By DaveLessnau on 5/6/2013 12:24:14 PM , Rating: 2
I also wonder if this thing is even sized properly. According to that monthly table of radiation, energy, and value (above), in December, a 5 kWh solar panel in Lansing, MI will only produce 257 kWhs. Simplistically dividing by 31 days in December gives about 7 kWh each day. Yet, the Cadillac ELR mentioned in the article (and even a Chevy Volt) has a 16.5 kWh battery. To me, that looks like in December only one car could get even a half a charge on any given day. Even in May (at the monthly peak of 612 kWhs), that only works out to 20 kWhs each day (1.25 full car charges).

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