Veterans Get It: Nimble Minds, Strong Hands For The Fast-Growing EV Charging Industry

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In advance of Veterans Day here in the US, CleanTechnica will be bringing you some relevant news from the military field, and first up is Envision Solar’s fleet of portable solar-powered EV charging stations. Portable scavenged energy is emerging as a tactical advantage in military operations, and it’s not a coincidence that Envision is keen on hiring veterans. In an exclusive email to CleanTechnica, Envision CEO and President Desmond Wheatley shared some personal thoughts about the mutual attraction between employment in the renewable energy sector and veterans returning to civilian life.

And then we’ll have some thoughts on that $43 million gas station in Afghanistan.

portable solar powered EV charging station 1

Envision Solar And US Veterans

Here is Wheatley’s note to CleanTechnica in full:

We work with Wounded Warrior and the Honor Foundation as well as direct command connections in the Corps today. We also have so many veterans here now that word of mouth works well for us. Veterans, particularly Marine Corps combat veterans, work very well in our environment because they have an excellent mind set where doing the difficult things is concerned.

Those of them who have fought in the deserts of the Middle East also understand, better than anyone, why it’s so important to get America off oil and driving on sunshine instead.

We are inventing and manufacturing products for very young industries. There is no play book – we have to be very adaptable and we have to be able to deal with stress and change without flinching and with a smile. We are on a dramatic growth curve and as a result we often don’t have all the resources that a well established org would have to complete the growing number of tasks in front of us. We have to make do with what we’ve got and create excellence with less.

Marines who have been through testing times are comfortable with that type of environment. They have a good sense of humor and are not easily offended. They love what they are doing and they bring an energy and determination which allows us to punch way above our weight.

I’m very proud of the team and what they are accomplishing. We invented the world’s only transportable solar powered EV charging station. We manufacture it in San Diego, it’s an American made product. It allows EVs to be truly emissions free and it does not cause any environmental impact when it’s deployed.

We have a patent on it, our Solar Tree™ and our sun tracking system EnvisionTrak™. Every time we deliver an EV ARC™ to a new location we put another dead gas pump sticker on our ARC Mobility™ specialized hydraulic deliver trailer, like a fighter pilot chalking up kills.

We’re on a mission and there’s a definite moment of pride every time another EV ARC™ leaves the factory which is happening daily now and with increasing velocity.

Portable EV Charging Stations

If Envision Solar rings a bell, just last February our sister site revisited a TED talk by Wheatley from several years ago on transportation electrification, with solar powered EV charging at the heart of a sea change in the way human beings capture, convert, and use energy.

CleanTechnica first caught up with Envision back in 2010, when the company began marketing compact solar powered EV charging stations with the potential for residential application, as a spinoff from its broader expertise with solar parking lots.

The company has fine-tuned its approach to the transportable EV charging market since then. Its EV ARC™ charging station is designed to fit into a single parking space without impinging on other spaces, which is a key advantage parking-starved commuter communities and downtown business districts.

With no need for a foundation or other surface attachment, the whole thing can be hitched up and transported just about anywhere a pickup truck can go:

portable solar powered EV charging station3

The combination of slim design, easy transportation, and no-foundation engineering also enables the EV charging station to be deployed temporarily as needed, adjacent to buildings or in other tight spots, and in areas where there is no delineated parking:

portable EV charging station

With a patented tracking system, the solar panel collects enough energy to provide for up to 150 miles of driving and the integrated storage system enables night-time charging.

Over the summer Envision won a contract to supply its portable EV charging stations to the State of California for workplace EV charging, and the company delivered the first load in a series for that order in September. The delivery provided Envision with an opportunity to demonstrate the quick set-up for its EV charging stations, which were deployed “within minutes.”

About That $43 Million Gas Station In Afghanistan…

The intertubes are buzzing with news about this super-expensive gas station but to be clear, the gas station in question is actually a $43 million refueling station for CNG (compressed natural gas) vehicles, not a gas station for conventional gasmobiles. As reported by our friends over at Vice, apparently the Pentagon chewed through $43 million, almost none of which has been fully accounted for, to provide a few CNG vehicle drivers in Afghanistan with “the world’s most expensive gas station.”

The price tag won’t come as much of a shock to those of you following the Pentagon’s increasingly fraught relationship with fossil fuels. Back in 2009 the generals brought Congress up to date on the reality of a $400 per gallon price tag for fuel shipped to war zones, and since then military officials have tried — and mostly, failed — to draw public attention to the hundreds of avoidable casualties involved in fuel transportation for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Battlefield casualties only tell part of the story. In 2012 CleanTechnica sat down with former Army Captain Jon Gensler, who described what happens to small communities here at home that lose their future civic leaders, when their “best and brightest” are killed defending fuel convoys overseas. You can catch the full picture in the new documentary The Burden.

The mortal consequences of fossil fuel dependency, along with the impact of climate change and oil price spikes on military resources and global stability, has propelled the US armed services to the forefront of renewable energy adoption. In addition to integrating off-the-shelf technology into the field, the Defense Department’s various science offices in the Navy and Air Force are funding a good chunk of the cutting edge solar R&D covered by CleanTechnica.

The military’s need for a tactical edge has been the driving force behind major fuel transitions throughout US history, from raw horsepower and wood to coal to oil, and now to renewable electricity. Aside from blips like the aforementioned gas station, Envision’s portable EV charging stations are one of the many reasons why oil dependency is destined to take its place in the past.

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Photo credits (all): via Envision Solar.

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Tina Casey

Tina specializes in advanced energy technology, military sustainability, emerging materials, biofuels, ESG and related policy and political matters. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on LinkedIn, Threads, or Bluesky.

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