A public EV charging network will build a 75 MW solar farm in California
Virginia-based Electrify America, an open electric vehicle (EV) charging network, announced a 15-year virtual power purchase agreement (VPPA). As part of the agreement, developer Terra-Gen will build a 75 MegaWatts (MW) peak capacity solar farm in San Bernardino County, CA, a press release said.
As the U.S. enters a new phase of transportation, where cars are powered by electricity rather than fossil fuels, there is a need for extensive charging infrastructure. While EV-makers have invested in building these charging points, there is room for many more in this space. However, having electric cars will not solve the problems of climate change. We also need to ensure that electricity used in these cars is generated in a carbon-free manner. This is where Electrify America aims to make a difference.
Charging with renewable power
Founded in 2018, Electrify America is expanding its charging network and is currently available at 730 locations across the U.S. Using D.C. chargers, the company offers charging speeds up to 350 kW, which means you could be back on the road again in as little as 30 minutes. The company has also invested in A.C. charging, which usually takes much longer but is more feasible to deploy in residential locations and office spaces.
Owners of EVs might be using AC chargers at home, but it is not necessary that the power supplied to their homes comes from a carbon-free source. By backing its charging infrastructure with 100 percent renewable energy, Electrify America is making sure that the energy delivered through its network is carbon neutral, and EV-owners can take pride that their shiny new car is actually making a positive impact on the environment.
How Electrify America plans to achieve this?
Among its plans to deliver carbon-neutral energy is the VPPA which includes building a solar farm. The company estimates that the solar farm will produce 225,000 Megawatt hours (MWh) annually, which is more than the energy that Electrify America's extensive network will consume in a year.
The solar farm is expected to be operational by the summer of 2023, but the company has put in place systems to ensure that renewables also back the energy supplied now by purchasing renewable energy certificates (RECs) starting from April 2022.
A REC is a way to claim credit for generating renewable energy and the positive environmental impact thereof. A REC, created units of 1MWh, is tradeable in the open market, and corporations interested in using renewable energies can purchase them to back their energy consumption.
Electrify America claimed in the press release that it will purchase bundled RECs for this purpose, which not only offset the energy consumed but also help in financing new renewable energy projects.
The company has also retained an option to expand the solar farm to include a battery-based energy storage system that can store power generated during peak times and deliver it when there is a greater demand on the grid.