Mall pilots fast electric vehicle charger powered by solar panels

Mall pilots fast electric vehicle charger powered by solar panels

Summary: The installation at Simon Property Group's site in Carmel, Indiana, also includes an integrated battery for storing the electricity.

TOPICS: Emerging Tech

Giant property management company Simon Property Group has been experimenting with electric vehicle charging infrastructure for some time now, but its new installation in Carmel, Indiana, marks a departure into unknown territory for several reasons.

Not only does the fast-charging system rely on 10 kilowatts (10 kW) of solar generating capacity, it also comes with an integrated, 75-kW battery from Toshiba to store that power when it is cloudy or for when the system is used during evening hours.  The first-of-its-kind installation includes both a traditional charger as well as a "quick charge" option, so that electric vehicle batteries can be replenished more quickly.

Currently, there isn't a charge for electric vehicle drives to use the system while they are parked at the mall. 

A number of companies were involved in pulling off the installation, including Toshiba, Duke Energy, ITOCHU Corp., Tom Wood Automotive Group and Indiana's cleantech program, called Energy Systems Network.

"The majority of our shopping malls across the state are now equipped with electric vehicle charging stations, and we're seeking to upgrade this infrastructure just like we work to enhance every aspect of our customers' shopping experience," said George Caraghiaur, senior vice president of sustainability for Simon Property.

The company manages 337 retail real estate locations that account for 245 million square feet of space in North America and Asia. At latest count, Simon Property had installed almost 100 chargers - almost double the 55 chargers it had installed this time last year.

Topic: Emerging Tech

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  • Typical.

    Toss out the utopian platitudes about green energy without bothering with the mathematics that totally pops your little unicorn dream.

    Charging one Nissan Leaf off the solar panel will take 2.4 hours. If you park two there, it will take 5 hours. It will take another 7.5 hours to charge your backup battery. In other words, if you charge more than two cars in a day, you won't be able to charge up your battery and won't have any reserve power. So, you just spent about $20,000 to charge, at most, three or four cars a day, and probably only 2 cars if you want a battery backup.

  • Opportunity Charging makes sense

    EV owners will most likely only utilize these mall based chargers to "top off" their battery packs, in what AeroVironment, an EV charger manufacturer, calls, "Opportunity Charging". AV goes on to say, "... a driver simply charges opportunistically whenever his or her car is parked. Instead of forcing the driver to the fueling station, the new consumer EV refueling model brings the “fueling” to the driver. Why not “top off” even if you’re not at a low state of charge? The beauty of opportunistic charging is that it fits into the driver’s schedule, not the other way around." Makes sense to me for this use. It's what mall marketing executives might describe as an "Added Value Experience".
  • Solar power and fast-charging are oxymorons

    Not even the most advanced solar panels today (at the dimensions shown) will be able to produce enough power to do "fast-charging" for a vehicle. Now ... a full day charge may be possible.
  • DC Quick Charge a mall not well spent $

    I am a diehard EV fan but get upset when we have very limited funds to support our move away from oil squandered.

    DC quick charge systems are very very expensive. Far less $ are high amperage AC system which have a J1774 plug vs. non standard DC plugs. Use your $ for 80Amp AC units would be a better idea. You could even put in 14-50 plugs for almost nothing which would allow cars like the Model S to charge.

    DC quick charge belong on the highway where you need a quick boost of energy to get home not at a mall where you will be parked for several hours.

    They would be able to put in 2x-4x the amount of high current AC chargers per DC unit accommodating many more cars. Putting a battery in a place where AC lines are running is also not a wise use of limited $. Grid tied is a far less expensive solution. The batteries tend to cost as much as the rest of the install. They only make sense if the system is in a place without existing power lines.