u-del-solar-evTo eliminate using electricity from coal-fired plants, the University of Delaware sometimes borrows a mobile solar charging station to charge its electric vehicles.

The University of Delaware has used the structure, which is owned by the state of Delaware, twice for demonstrations and shows, said Willett Kempton, the director of the university’s Center for Carbon-free Power Integration.

The solar energy generated from the system goes directly into the vehicle, bypassing the electric grid.

The cars are usually plugged into the grid to charge, because a large, mobile solar array like this one is usually not available, said Kempton.

The system, which has a 110-volt plug, takes between eight and 12 hours to fully charge an electric vehicle, said green energy program planner at the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Scott Lynch.

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The mobile charging station, which has a 2kW solar system and a 3 kW gas generator on board, was built in the late 1990s as a demonstration piece to show solar technology, and continues to be mainly used for demonstrations and teaching, said Lynch.

The energy office has displayed the station for the past two years at the annual Delaware Great Green Expo in March in Wilmington, Del. Exhibitors at this expo show products and services related to solar energy, hybrids, socially-responsible investing and organic foods.

The system has also been shown at the Delaware State Fair and the Delaware Junior Solar Sprint, a competition for middle school students to design, build and race model cars powered by solar.

Another purpose for the mobile system is as an emergency situation power generator, said Lynch.

Though it has not been used in a disaster situation before, the system can be airlifted in to provide emergency power, he said.

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