The state of California recently ordered 52 solar-powered EV chargers from San Diego-based Beam Global. The off-grid clean energy chargers will provide electricity in emergency situations and charge zero-emissions state fleets. They will be paired with energy storage systems in order to provide electricity during outages, at night, and when weather reduces solar production. Typically, we might expect solar power to be used only on the rooftops of homes or commercial buildings, but it has other applications.
Beam Global’s CEO, Desmond Wheatley, provided some details and insights about the technology for CleanTechnica.
What is the capacity of the solar power panels at each EV charger?
Each EV ARC™ 2020 includes solar power generation from a 4.3 kilowatt solar array overhead and battery storage to store the electricity for use during nighttime, inclement weather and power outages. Each system generates and stores 100% of its own energy from the sun. The EV ARC™ model chosen by DGS has 32 kilowatt-hours of battery storage to deliver up to 235 e-miles in a day.
Where will the solar power EV chargers be installed?
We consider on-grid chargers to be installed, and EV ARC™ systems, which are off-grid, to be deployed. ARC stands for Autonomous (free standing), Renewable Charger. DGS is deploying these units with no electrical work, no grid connection, no construction and no utility expense. Each unit has a steel Engineered Ballast and Traction Pad that fits in the size of a single parking space; it is secured in place by sheer gravity and smart engineering — no wires, no bolting, no gluing.
The 52 EV ARC™ systems for DGS will expand access to sustainable EV charging and emergency power for 12 state government agencies in California and will be deployed at:
- The California Department of General Services (DGS)
- The California Department of State Hospitals (DSH)
- The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
- The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE)
- The California Department of Fish and Wildlife
- California Highway Patrol
- The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services
- California State Parks
- The California Department of Developmental Services
- The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans)
- The California Department of Justice
- The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
How will they be used during emergencies?
Each DGS EV ARC™ system includes the optional emergency power panel designed for first responders. The EV ARC is a 100% off-grid solar-powered EV charging unit that serves double duty as a mobile emergency preparedness and energy resilient asset. During grid failures, fleet EVs can still charge and first responders have access to 110V and 220V outlets of varying configurations to power emergency equipment.
The units are transportable and can be relocated to areas of most need during emergencies, disasters and power outages. For example, the City of Oakland relocated one of their units from a fire station to power a COVID test center. The EV ARC design folds into a low-profile structure for ease of transport, providing vital energy where and when it’s needed. It can be transported with a 15k pound rated forklift, a flatbed truck or in a standard shipping container.
Who will use them?
The DGS systems are primarily for state fleet EV use. State agencies are electrifying their fleets and need clean, cost-effective, rapidly deployed EV charging infrastructure to charge their growing fleet of EVs. California is a clean transportation leader; Governor Newsom’s executive order requires that all new cars sold in the state be electric by 2035. State fleet vehicles at select locations at the 12 agencies listed above can charge using DGS’ EV ARC™ systems. First responders can also access the emergency power panel in times of need.
What kind of vehicles will use them?
The EV ARC™ systems have a BTC Power brand Level 2 charger with a standard J1772 plug found on most public chargers. Almost any EV can charge, including Tesla’s with the adapter provided to Tesla owners. Examples of the types of State vehicles that will be using the DGS systems include park management and maintenance trucks, police vehicles, fire station EVs, golf-cart style vehicles for maintenance, deliveries, transport, parking enforcement vehicles and sedan-style EVs used by state personnel.
Will some of the solar EV chargers be mobile? If so, how many?
EV ARC™ systems are permanent, yet transportable. Our systems are truly unique in that they are 100% transportable and can be deployed within minutes without requiring permits or needing electrical work at their deployment site. Each unit sits inside a standard parking space and because vehicles can easily park on the base pad, there is no loss of coveted parking spaces.
Will they also have battery systems to store electricity?
Yes, all EV ARC™ systems have battery storage for operation during nighttime, inclement weather and grid outages. DGS has selected the model with 32 kilowatt-hours of battery storage to deliver up to 235 e-miles in a day.
Did the devastating CA wildfires play any role in the decision to procure solar-powered EV chargers?
The ongoing crisis our energy infrastructure is facing, as well as continued threats to California’s environment, played a significant role in this investment. EV ARC™ systems are rated for 120 mph winds and are floodproof up to 9.5 ft. They can serve as transportable clean generators or provide power during emergencies for first responders on the ground in the case of any natural disaster or grid failure.
California is at the start of wildfire season, and we are hearing predictions that this could be the worst year on record. This future-proofing purchase by the California Department of General Services (DGS) can become a vital asset to emergency responders this year.
Will the solar power chargers also be used to charge the batteries of equipment other than EVs?
Yes, each EV ARC system can charge a number of mission-critical devices that an emergency response team would need in disaster situations. In the past, the EV ARC™ has been used to provide clean, off-grid energy to medical and operation tents, mobile workstations, COVID test sites, vital laptops and mobile phones and communications hubs. They can be used to power a variety of equipment from lighting rigs to your cell phone.
What benefits will the new chargers provide?
California just made the largest order in our history because the state understands the need for rapidly deployed, highly scalable technology solutions like ours which provide a hedge against lengthy traditional construction/electrical projects and centralize vulnerabilities caused by weather, terrorism or nefarious state actors. Driving on Sunshine with our products provides the beginnings of a Strategic Electricity Reserve to replace the Strategic Petroleum Reserve we already have to ensure that we do not run out of diesel or gasoline.
What is the cost of each charger? And what is that cost compared to a diesel generator?
EV ARC™ chargers start at around $65k each, including the customer’s choice of quality EV charger pre-mounted at the Beam factory in San Diego. All Beam products are made in America. Each EV ARC arrives fully charged and ready to supply clean renewable energy, and each day can generate and store its own electricity.
The cost of diesel generators goes well beyond the equipment, including the challenge and risk of transporting and storing volatile fuels, paying for that fuel, constant refueling, toxic fumes, loud noise and the all-too-common issue that they won’t start after sitting in storage for extended periods. The EV ARC™ is a vital asset and a deeply insightful component of the State’s emergency preparedness strategy.