It was just in May 2021 that I had the privilege to interview Beam Global CEO Desmond Wheatley about a then-recent order from the state of California for 52 off-grid solar-power EV chargers. Each Beam Global EV charging unit has a 4.3 kilowatt solar array and up to 44kWh of battery storage.
Typically news about EV chargers is about those that are on-grid and permanently installed, but there are also off-grid EV chargers for situations such as natural disasters and power outages. They can also operate in remote, isolated conditions. Beam Global recently announced it has its EV chargers operating in sites around the world. Mr. Wheatley answered some questions about the expansion for CleanTechnica.
How many renewable energy EV charging systems have you sold so far, and where are they located?
EV ARC™ solar-powered EV charging systems have been deployed in over 100 municipalities and organizations in the US, and internationally in Spain, Brazil, Canada, and the Caribbean. New York City is our largest municipal customer with around 100 units deployed.
How long have you been selling them, and how have you managed to sell your EV charging stations to so many municipalities?
Beam Global was founded in 2006 and has pioneered clean, 100% renewable energy for EV charging and energy security long before it was popular. Based in San Diego, California, all of our products are Made in America, which is important to us and to our customers. We are not just creating exciting new clean technology, we are creating careers and business models that will carry us all forward. The EV ARC™, our primary EV charging product, requires no construction or electrical work and as a result has never needed any sort of permitting, meaning it is easily and rapidly deployed.
We also see cities and states that value the transportability of the EV ARC™ system, and that it can be swiftly redeployed depending on how a city needs to use the infrastructure. The City of Oakland, California, for example, redeployed some of their EV ARC™ systems to power COVID-19 emergency sites in April 2020.
The fact that our EV ARC™ systems are also disaster preparedness assets, providing EV charging and emergency power during blackouts, is another significant inducement to our customers’ buying decision.
Who is your typical customer?
We work with a wide swath of customers, from federal and state government agencies looking for rapidly deployed, energy resilient EV charging systems to fuel their fleets, to local cities and towns looking for convenient and construction-less EV charging systems to private sector customers looking to provide EV charging to visitors, employees and tenants.
Recently, because we’re an approved federal vendor, we’re able to sell our products directly to federal government agencies and branches of the military looking to securely power their electric fleets and machinery. This past October, we received our first order from the US Marine Corps for 21 EV ARC™s that will be deployed across 14 different bases.
What is the solar power capacity of one of your renewable energy EV charging stations, and how many EVs can charge simultaneously at each one?
The combination of our patented tracking 4.3 kW solar array and our onboard batteries with up to 44kWh of storage provides enough clean, green electricity to power up to 265 driving miles in a day. BeamTrak™ (solar tracking) enables 25% more generation than a fixed array.
An EV ARC™ can be equipped to charge up to 6 electric vehicles at one time.
What are the key benefits your renewable energy EV charging stations provide?
Key benefits: the speed and scalability of deployment, coupled with lowest total cost of ownership after avoided construction and utility costs. And, of course, resiliency.
EV ARC™ charging systems are powered completely by sunshine, and require no permitting, construction or installation costs, risks or disruption. They’re easily deployed and moved, and can be used completely off of the existing energy grid, or hooked up to the grid, depending on the users’ needs.
EV ARC™s are rapidly scalable and come equipped with any quality EV charger brand the customer chooses. They can be available to charge 24/7, day or night or during inclement weather, and throughout the grid failures like those we saw in Texas and California earlier this year.
For disaster preparedness, units are floodproof up to 9.5 feet, wind-rated to 120 mph, and include an emergency power panel. EV ARC™s can also be used as clean generators during natural disasters or grid failures.
What are your plans for the next three years?
Beam Global will be bringing new products to market that address rapidly deployed sustainable solutions for curbside charging, off-grid DC fast charging for light, medium, and heavy-duty vehicles, and networks for drone charging. We will be expanding into new segments and geographic regions.
What trends do you see forming now and in the next several years that might impact the EV and EV charging space?
As more consumers adopt EVs, we will see a significant move away from charging at home, as most people do not live somewhere they can charge. There will be less emphasis on fast charging at gas station-like destinations, and more emphasis on ubiquitous, slower speed charging in locations where people were already going — like the office, retail spaces, the park, etc..
The impacts of electricity grid failures stemming from natural disasters, extreme weather, and attacks against our infrastructure will become increasingly recognized as a significant vulnerability in our future fueling infrastructure and more emphasis will be placed upon off-grid, locally generated and stored electricity for everything, but particularly for EV charging.
Grid capacity will soon also be recognized as a choke point in the growth of EVs — this will also largely be solved by smaller microgrids and other off-grid solutions.
Will the new federal infrastructure bill influence your business?
The Federal government is the largest consumer of gasoline and diesel in the world today. It will soon become the largest EV fleet operator in the world with over 675k vehicles and, as a result, the largest operator of EV charging infrastructure in the world. We expect to see additional interest from federal agencies and other government entities in our solutions as a result of the infrastructure bill, and the Biden Administration’s plans to install half a million EV chargers in the next five years across the country and to electrify the entire Federal fleet.
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