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To really make the most of their EVs, fleets need a reliable, cost effective way to charge them. While it may seem logical to tie into the existing power grid, doing so actually poses a number of problems, including difficult, disruptive, expensive, and time-consuming installation; susceptibility to blackouts and outages that threaten to stop vehicles; reliance on an unsustainable energy source; and a higher total cost of ownership (TCO). Fortunately, solar energy is now available as a clean, reliable, cost-effective way to power EVs.

The Problem with Grid-Tied EV Chargers

Grid-tied chargers come with a number of challenges:

Difficult (and Permanent) Construction

Installation of grid-tied EV charging stations isn’t an easy process. It requires extensive planning, invasive construction, and is costly. On top of that, permitting can be difficult and adds significant time and expense to the construction process. Fleets that choose to construct a grid-tied EV charging infrastructure can expect the process to take between 9 and 12 months – or longer. In the state of California, for example, the average is 18 months. In the city of New York, the average time is 24 months.

Likewise, grid-tied chargers are permanent. So if your operation moves, your charging station can’t move with you. And if you lease, the property owner may be reluctant to allow construction in the first place.  

Reliance on an Unreliable Grid

When chargers are powered by the grid, it also leaves vehicles susceptible to blackouts and grid outages. Think about this: If a blackout or other major grid outage occurs, will you be able to charge your vehicles? Or will they be stopped in their tracks? With a grid-tied EV charging station, entire fleets of EVs can be rendered useless until power is restored. Making matters worse is the fact that grid interruptions are more common today than ever before, and the United States is growing more vulnerable to them as well. Extreme weather disasters such as supercharged storms, higher wind speeds, and heavier rains with flooding, are occurring more often. And then there are foreign interests that threaten to disrupt the grid as an act of terrorism. Simply put, grid-dependent chargers aren’t always reliable, and that leaves EV drivers vulnerable during grid outages, resulting in the inability to charge vehicles and continue providing services to customers.

There’s Not Enough Electricity to Go Around

Electricity may cost less than traditional fuels, but that doesn’t mean there is an unlimited supply.

On a national level, there is not enough electricity to support the growing needs of EV charging. The baseload in the United States today is about 10 terawatt-hours. Electrification of the entire transportation system will require another 1.5 terawatt-hours, or a 15% increase to baseload. It’s likely this need will not be met within the next couple of decades. Power stations and transmission and distribution infrastructure simply can’t be built quickly enough to support this demand. And some cities and regions may hit the grid overload tipping point even sooner, as aggressive plans to electrify government and large commercial fleets are implemented, contributing to the risk of increased outages.

The Solar Solution

Grid-tied chargers come with some clear challenges. Fortunately, fleets have options when it comes to EV charging. Transportable Solar charging stations, such as the models available from Beam, mitigate most of these challenges and can be deployed quickly. They generate and store all of their own electricity so they will work day and night and even during inclement weather.

Transportable Solar charging stations offer numerous benefits:

Quick and Convenient Deployment

Permitting, construction, and installation of grid-based solutions all have an associated cost, but they are also complicated and time consuming. Transportable Solar solutions allow you to avoid the headache and hassle with quick, simple delivery. Where grid-based chargers take months (or even years) to install, solar charging stations available from Beam take just minutes. Fast installation has zero environmental impact and zero interruptions to parking lots, so there’s little inconvenience on employees and customers. Solar charging stations can even be dropped in overnight when parking lots are empty. The result is rapid, low-impact deployment. Because they aren’t hard-wired, solar charging stations can be installed anywhere — even in remote areas where it would be challenging and costly to install traditional, utility grid-connected installations. Solar charging stations can fit inside a parking space without reducing available parking, while also generating enough solar energy to power up to 225 miles of EV driving in a day, with options that charge up to 1,200 miles of EV driving a day.

Low Cost and Lower Total Cost of Ownership

Even if electricity is cheap in your area, the costs of grid-tied chargers add up. Grid-tied charging infrastructure requires hefty costs associated with permitting and construction. And thereafter, you must pay a utility bill that might include increased demand charges every single month. With transportable solar solutions, there are no fees associated with permitting and construction, which for a traditional grid-tied charging station can reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and that’s only the beginning — there are then the bills to the utility company, which adds additional costs to a grid-tied charging station, particularly if charging must be done during peak times.

Transportable

Because solar charging stations aren’t tied to the grid, they are 100% transportable, and can be moved quickly and easily to meet the needs and demands of the fleet — particularly if parking needs change or the company moves. For instance, if your company is located on a leased property, you may be reluctant to invest in charging infrastructure there (as will your landlord). With a solar charging solution, when your lease is up, your charging station can move with you.

Clean, Reliable Energy

When fleets charge using solar, they’re literally driving on sunshine. No grid means no reliance on fossil fuels. This makes EVs 100% emissions-free because they are powered on nothing but clean, renewable energy. The use of solar delivers a powerful message to customers about the fleet’s and its organization’s commitment to sustainability, enhancing public goodwill.

Disaster Preparedness

Because solar charging stations generate and store all their own electricity, they are not only operable in natural disasters, they are actually a disaster preparedness tool. When an outage occurs due to a natural disaster, off-grid solutions can keep your fleet operating. The fleet won’t be tied to the grid and your fleet won’t be stopped. Portable solar charging stations continue working even during hurricanes and are rated to withstand 120 mph winds. Further, an emergency power panel is often included so that first responders or businesses can connect to a clean and reliable source of electricity when it’s needed most.

Beam Is a Proven Solution

Beam’s cutting edge was first deployed in 2013. The company currently has deployed over 300 units. Beam charging stations are in use in:

  • 4 countries
  • 20 states
  • 100 municipalities
  •  It has been used by governments at the federal, state and local levels as well as many well-known corporations.

Beam portable solar charging units are tried and tested. They offer lower total cost of ownership, fewer headaches, continued power even in emergencies, and clean, truly renewable energy.