A Columbia company has developed an environmentally friendly solution to charging environmentally friendly electric cars—solar-powered chargers.
The latest sun-tracking solar car-charger, developed by Advanced Technology and Research Corporation, was unveiled at Win Kelly Chevrolet in Clarksville on Thursday. The dealership will use the charger to power the all-electric Chevy Volts it sells.
The charger consists of six solar panels set on an 18-foot pole. The panels use GPS technology to shift with the sun, according to a spokesperson for ATR.
“I am exceedingly proud that one of our own local companies, ATR, has developed such cutting-edge technology in the field of renewable energy,” said County Exectuive Ken Ulman at the event.
The solar-powered charger is capable of fully charging a Chevy Volt in about four hours and a Nissan Leaf, which has a bigger battery, in about seven, according to Eric Rees, the chief financial and chief operating officer for ATR. When not charging a car, the system can be plugged into the grid to feed unused electricity back into the grid.
ATR installed its first solar-powered car charger last August in Bethesda, MD, according to the spokesperson.
Rees said the company plans to produce hundreds or even thousands of them eventually, but for now the company has produced a small initial batch and is selling and installing those. The cost of the charger is about $23,000, according to Rees.
“[Electric vehicle] owners are making an important and strongly eco-friendly choice by buying electric vehicles in the first place,” said Rob Lundahl, ATR’s VP for energy and automation. “And these same eco-minded values are going to influence their choices of where they refuel their cars, shop, go out to eat and stay overnight. EV charging stations will be the least this new and growing class of consumer will look for.”
ATR was also in the news recently after it neighborhood center that will help power some of the buildings there.