French Corsica to get dozens of solar EV canopies

corsica-solar-EV-canopy2albert-grahamVisitors to the island of Corsica, will soon be able to soak up the sun on the beaches of this beautiful island while their electric vehicles (EVs) soak up the same sunshine that will later be used to power those EVs around the island.

Those are the plans of a young and dynamic upstart company called CorsicaSole based out of Paris and in Corsica. CorsicaSole has created a project called DrivEC in partnership withEuropcar, the large European rental car company, to make available up to 1,000 pure EV rental vehicles on the island of Corsica.

These EVs will be recharged by several solar EV charging stations designed, managed and deployed by CorsicaSole at strategic locations around the island.

Practical, CO2 free transportation
“It’s all about providing practical transportation while addressing the CO2 emmission reduction challenge that the island of Corsica currently faces,” explains CorsicaSole’s Managing Director Michael Coudyser, a graduate of the well-known Polytechnique Science and Engineering school in Paris who has been leading the project since its inception in 2009.

corsica-mapCorsica lies off the southeast coast of France but it is not tied into the mainland’s energy grid. Consequently, it does not benefit from the nuclear and other low CO2 emmitting energy which the mainland sends to users around the country.

Corsica relies instead on its own electric generation stations. These use high CO2 emitting fossil fuels to generate their energy. Consequently, Corsica’s carbon footprint weighs heavily on France’s and the European mandate for reduction of CO2 emmissions within the upcoming years.

“This situation need not be like this,” Coudyser notes.

Corsica’s unique situation
By studying transportation trends and energy demands on the island, project DrivECO has identified some unique trends about this location:

  • The largest demand for transportation and energy on the island comes from tourists. Almost three million tourists visit the island each year, which is about ten times Corsica’s population.
  • The strongest demand for transportation thus occurs during the high tourist season, which happens to coincide with the periods of most sunshine on the island.

corsica-artist-renderWhen these two observations are dovetailed, the CorsicaSole team’s proposition of making available an EV + PV product aimed at the large tourist market emerges as a clear winner.

Project DrivECO consists of placing solar EV canopy stations at about 50 key locations throughout the island frequented by tourists (beaches, near hotels, airport, ferry stations etc.). At these locations, EVs (and especially those rented from EuropCar) will be able to charge on sunshine for a small fee.

Based on the topography of the island and the points of highest tourist concentration, project DrivECO envisions placing recharging stations around the island approximately every 50 kilometers.

25 kW each
The solar EV charging stations will have the following attributes:

  • Surface area of about 100 square meters each;
  • Capacity of 25kW;
  • Able to charge up to four vehicles at a time;
  • In general, there will be four solar EV canopies at each of the 50 parking areas/lots where DrivECO wants to provide EV + PV charging;

coudyserThe solar EV canopies, which will be tied to EdF (Electricite de France) of Corsica’s electric grid, will also be equipped with batteries for storing energy and will thus be able to provide a charge to vehicles when sunlight is not available (for example at night).

Battery backup
In the event of a power outage at EdF Corsica plants, EVs can continue to charge during the day with sunshine and with stored battery charge, albeit at a reduced capacity if demand is high.

Finally, when all storage batteries are charged and all the needs of all vehicles being charged are being met, the system will then sell energy to the EDF Corsica grid to reduce the latter’s dependence on fossil fuel (and thus reduce CO2 emissions).

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This strategy is in line with the commercial objectives set out for the program which are to:

  • Sell solar energy to EV users at EV charge points throughout the island whenever they need a charge;
  • Sell any excess energy generated by the PVs back to the EdF power grid in Corsica;

Given that the island has many UNESCO protected areas and is home to numerous fragile archeological and ecological treasures in designing its solution project DrivECO has also put much consideration into, and given careful attention to, the aesthetics of the solar EV canopies and their placement around the island.

Substainability and recyclability of all material used in the project is paramount, notes Coudyser, as waste on the island must be kept to a minimum.