New Zealand's first on-road, solar-powered electric vehicle (EV) charger - the 'Electric Station' - is now open to the public thanks to the collaborative and community-focused effort of local project partners.
Located on The Strand, Tauranga, the EV charger has two allocated car parks and draws energy from 18 solar panels. When insufficient solar-power is generated, the grid provides back-up power, with any excess solar power being fed back into the grid.
"The Strand was selected as a high-profile location in the heart of the Tauranga CBD where we could prioritize support for EVs and demonstrate the use of solar technology," says Mayor Greg Brownless.
The charger also features a unique display unit, which shows users how much electricity is being generated from the sun, and how much is coming from the grid.
Powerco Commercial Manager Eric Pellicer says, "This is an exciting development for Tauranga. It provides 'destination charging' in the heart of the city and, with renewable energy being used to power low emission vehicles, it's a double-win for the environment."
Using the latest innovative technology, it is only the second solar-powered EV charger in the country that is available for public use, and the first to be situated 'on-road'. The other is situated on private land at the Sustainability Trust in Wellington.
Jo Wills, Sustainability Options Development Manager says, "We believe in a future that includes electric vehicles and renewable energy as the norm. We are still early adopters in this space, but it's been a great experience to be a part of laying the foundation that will assist our community to make great choices."
The project partners, which include Tauranga City Council, Powerco, Sustainability Options and My Solar Quotes, believe there are many social and environmental benefits for the community and that this project will highlight Tauranga as a leader in the clean technology space, bringing interest and engagement in sustainability practices to the city.
Kristy Hoare, Director of My Solar Quotes, says, "Creating a beacon for change was the real motivation for this project; all of the project partners, big and small, envisioned combining solar power and EV charging into one station, within the same location. We want the Electric Station to inspire and encourage people from all walks of life to adopt the new, clean technology."
Other sponsors include APsystems, Beca, Suntech, Trustpower and TECT, who have contributed to the project install costs.
The official opening is on Wednesday, 22 February by Tauranga MP and Minister of Transport Hon Simon Bridges. The Electric Station will provide free power for the first year thanks to Trustpower and free parking (up to 2 hours) thanks to Tauranga City Council.
For more information about the Electric Station, specifications and background please go to www.tauranga.govt.nz and search for 'electric vehicles'.