hawaiian-electricHawaiian Electric Co. (HECO) has teamed up with an industry research group to test an experimental solar-powered charging station for electric vehicles at the utility’s Ward Avenue facility in Honolulu, according to a recent story in the Honolulu Star Advertiser.

The 2 kW charging station has a nine-panel PV array mounted on a carport complete with a battery storage system. The project will allow HECO and the Electric Power Research Institute to collect and analyze a range of data on the potential impact vehicle charging will have on electrical grids, or distribution systems, as the number of EVs on the country’s roadways grows.

The station also has a 20 kW lithium-ion battery that can be used to store energy collected during the daytime for EV charging at night, reports the Star Advertiser. The battery produces enough energy to provide more than 80 percent of the charge needed for the 24-kilowatt Nissan LEAF.

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Battery back-up adds cost
The battery, which carried a price tag of around $50,000 before tax credits, added significant cost to the solar charging station.

RevoluSun, which designed and built the system, said homeowners in Hawaii who want equivalent charging power can install a PV system on an existing house or garage rooftop for about $15,000 to $16,000. In Hawaii, a 35 percent state tax credit and 30 percent federal tax credit would drop the effective cost of the system to $5,200 to $5,600, according to the Star Advertiser.

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HECO offers its Oahu customers a discount of 6 cents per kilowatt-hour on electricity used for charging electric vehicles between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. On the neighbor islands the EV rate ranges from 7 cents to 10 cents lower per kilowatt-hour.

According to the Star Advertiser, EV owners who already have PV panels on their homes can still offset the cost of charging their cars at night when the electricity being used is coming from the HECO grid. Under the utility’s net energy metering program, a customer can receive credit for unused solar energy that is fed back into the grid during daylight hours. That credit can then be used to pay for the electricity being drawn from the grid at night.

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