The Golden State is set to capitalize on all its sunshine with the construction of the world’s first solar-powered electric car corridor.
Solar power company SolarCity and California community bank Rabobank are partnering up to install the world’s first solar-power enhanced, fast-charge electric vehicle corridor along Highway 101 from San Francisco to Los Angeles. With the completion of the final station in Goleta this month, drivers will be able to recharge their electric vehicles at Rabobank locations in Salinas, Atascadero, San Luis Obispo, Santa Maria and Goleta.
SolarCity Director of Communications Jonathan Bass said the combination of electric vehicles and solar power technology creates an environmentally friendly mode of transportation.
“EVs are great in the sense that they help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels,” Bass said. “At the same time, they contribute to greenhouse gases because of the electricity needed to charge them. The solar-powered charging stations allow a completely carbon emission-free way of transportation.”
SolarCity is building the corridor with help from premier electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla Motors. Currently, the charging stations are only able to connect to a Tesla Roadster, which costs upward of $100,000. However, SolarCity plans to make the stations available to fit all electric vehicles in the future.
“As of right now, Tesla cars are the only ones that are capable of making trips over a long distance, such as from San Francisco to Los Angeles,” Bass said. “We will update our charging stations once a wider variety of EVs are available.”
Fourth-year environmental studies major Monica Noeng said she thinks the charging stations are a “step in the right direction” because they will encourage Californians to consider purchasing environmentally friendly vehicles.
“Many people own electric cars as secondary cars for local use, but if stations are widespread up and down California, it will encourage the use of the electric vehicle for long distance driving,” Noeng said. “The charging stations may also become widespread like gas stations as the number of electric vehicles increase.”
Bass said the corridor will be the first interregional structure of its kind and that SolarCity is hoping that a charging corridor infrastructure will be built nation-wide.
“What we’re doing is kind of like building the railroads,” Bass said. “You’ve got to start somewhere.”