Phoenix Contact will receive a 2014 Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence for the SunPlug project, a solar-powered charging station for electric vehicles (EVs). The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection selected 19 projects that promote environmental stewardship and economic development.
SunPlug went into commission on April 22, 2013, as part of Phoenix Contact’s Earth Day activities. Since that time, it has delivered about 200 kWh of electricity, which represents nearly 1,000 hours of driving time. Almost entirely student-designed and built, the charging port includes 12 south-facing solar panels, Apollo Solar inverter and Concorde AGM batteries that collect sunlight during the day. The design of the control panel cabinet, however, uses almost all Phoenix Contact products. The placement of the solar panels allows for optimal light collection, with an additional 4 kW of battery reserve for the electric vehicle.
The advantage of a solar-powered charging station over a conventional charging station is that it does not rely on power from a utility company, and therefore puts no additional demand on the grid. As the number of electric cars on the road grows, this will put a strain on the electrical utilities’ capacities. The use of a solar-powered charging station eliminates that long-term issue and saves the consumer money over time.
The complete charging station footprint is no larger than a regular car parking space. Engineering student-interns from Elizabethtown College, Shippensburg University and Penn State–Harrisburg designed and created the charging port. Arnold Offner, Phoenix Contact’s Industry Standards Manager, supervised the students during the two-year project.
The Pennsylvania Environmental Council will host a dinner honoring Phoenix Contact and the other award recipients at the Harrisburg Hilton & Towers on April 22.
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