Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley was present, along with other state, local and federal officials, when a solar-powered electric vehicle charging station opened in Bethesda, Maryland. Its solar panels are located at the top of an 18 foot pole. At present, there are around half a dozen electric vehicle charging stations in Montgomery County.
The solar power pole can generate 1,410 watts and features sun-tracking technology that uses GPS system that automatically moves the solar panels in relation to the position of the sun. It could charge up to two electric vehicles at a time.
The solar power pole was designed by Advanced Technology and Research Corp, a Columbia-based engineering and manufacturing company. It was made to generate electricity with the least amount of carbon footprint.
It was made through a $1.1 million grant from the Clean Energy Economic Development Initiative, through the help of the Maryland Energy Administration and the United States Department of Energy. The funds come from federal stimulus dollars. Its unveiling was done with such fanfare because Maryland wants to show its leadership in green technology innovation.
One of the challenges for electric vehicle owners is the lack of infrastructure that supports them. Investments in green structures, such as the solar-powered charging station, can promote green technology and stimulate the economy by making new jobs.
The solar-powered charging station is similar to a gas station. Electric vehicles can pull up, swipe a plastic card and plug in their cars to charge them. At present, electric car owners can charge their vehicles at the Bethesda charging station for free. But it would charge for the service in the future.
According to Advanced Technology and Research Corp, the cost of a solar-powered charging station is between $15,000 and $20,000. The company developed the technology in response to the governor’s call to have 20 percent of the state’s energy generated from sustainable sources by 2022.
Alvin L. Aubinoe Inc. owns the property where the solar-powered charging station is located. Owner Alvin L. Aubinoe III said that he purchased the charging station for the site from Advanced Technology and Research Corp. He plans to install more electric vehicle charging stations at all of the 50 properties that his company manages. He hopes that other companies would do the same.
Aubinoe also plans to file with the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission for a 60 unit, green residential rental unit building at the same site, where he would install more electric vehicle chargers. He added that the demand might not be there now but he is gambling that it would be there in the future.