20170621_102021_resizedElectric vehicle (EV) commuters can now drive home on sunshine with the installation of the University’s first solar-powered charger in Parking Lot 36, located at Kinross Avenue and Veteran Avenue in Westwood. Bruins and campus visitors can power their green mode of transportation from this environmentally-sound source of energy.

The latest sustainable solution on campus, the new charging station is a transportable setup from Envision Solar that fits in a standard-size parking space and doesn’t reduce parking availability. The station can service multiple EVs at a time and charges power day and night.

Six to eight hours of charging will provide enough renewable energy for a ride home.

This new charging station is part of an effort to make the campus more EV-friendly. Another sun-powered charger will soon be available for use in Lot A behind Murphy Hall.

Four types of Level 1 and Level 2 EV charging stations are already available for the UCLA community and visitors for “top-off” charging in Structures 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 32, MP and SV. Level 1 is free to permit holders and Level 2 costs $2 an hour.

UCLA is charging ahead with plans to install more stations, with close to 400 places where EVs can be plugged in. The goal is to convert 2% of all permit spaces into EV charging spots by the end of the year.

So how does an solar EV charger work? Photovoltaic (PV) energy is captured through a small solar grid attached to a steel plate that sits on the ground. PV panels on top are attached to a battery storage unit in front of the parking stall that is connected to three 110 volt outlets, which provide a Level 1 long-term, low-level charge.

Moving throughout the day, the solar power generator optimizes its position as the sun moves. Electric motors tilt the array 15 degrees in three directions, angling east to catch sunrise, and south and west. This sun tracking technology generates up to 25% more electricity than fixed solar arrays.

The solar panels produce enough electricity each day to fully charge a lithium-ion battery pack that holds 22.5 kilowatt hours of electricity.

Built portable yet tough, the charging station is strong enough to withstand L.A.’s powerful Santa Ana winds and has on-board energy storage that can stay powered during a blackout or other grid failure.