Blog, Green mobility

What is a solar charging station?

If you are still getting used to the word “charging station”, make room in your brain for “solar charging station”; a new word that we are going to explain to you today

The energy transition towards a more efficient and environmentally friendly model entails a multitude of changes and advances in our society. In addition to new sources of electricity generation and types of sustainable mobility, there are a series of words that, step by step, are creeping into our daily vocabulary. Thus, those who a few years ago had never heard of terms such as charging station, wind turbine or photovoltaic have now impregnated their language with these terms to the point of using them unconsciously on a daily basis.

Well, today, in the spirit of further enriching our lexicon, we want to dwell on a word that is making a name for itself: solar charging station. In fact, if you still haven’t quite got the hang of calling service stations for recharging the batteries of electric vehicles a “charging station” – the fact is that they are not yet as common as they should be – now a new term has burst onto the specialist energy magazines and promises to make its way into the media in the wake of innovative projects.

So, without further delay, let’s see what the heck this “solar charging station” thing is and why it is so innovative.

A solar charging station is a type of service station for recharging electric vehicles (charging station) with a distinctive feature that makes it unique: the energy used in the recharging process is 100% renewable thanks to a photovoltaic energy generation infrastructure and a battery energy storage system; offering the necessary power to supply ultra-fast recharges to electric vehicles that need it. To do this, the solar charging stations use their own photovoltaic park or use those that are already operating in the vicinity, connected to the electricity grid.

This type of electric vehicle charging station has a very positive feature, which is that it offers a high-power charging solution in areas where access to the grid is weaker than usual or non-existent, such as in rural areas or areas far from large cities or communication routes, which is where investments of this type usually take place. This being the case, the solar charging station appears as a complementary solution to continue weaving an electric vehicle charging infrastructure that helps us to democratise the implementation of this technology, trying to put an end to the usual inequality gaps that these trends cause in the rural population.

Spain’s first solar charging station about to arrive

All in all, Spain seems destined to be home to its first-ever solar charging station. The location of this innovative facility will be on the National 3 (N-3) road near Alarcón, in the province of Cuenca, and is being promoted by the company Eranovum, which defines this project as “a unique concept with all the necessary power to provide ultra-fast recharging for electric vehicles that need it”. According to the developer, this facility will save 2,000 tonnes of CO2 per year, in addition to having four ultra-fast charging points of more than 240 kW, with a planned extension to eight points by 2032. To this end, the facility will be powered by an energy storage system with a capacity of 300 kWh based on the reuse of second-life batteries from electric vehicles in order to maintain its functionality 100% operational in the hours when sunlight cannot supply the needs of customers. On the other hand, the station will not have its own photovoltaic installation, but will be fed, through an electrical connection, by the solar energy produced by the Olmedilla and Sabinar photovoltaic parks, which have an installed capacity of more than 400 MW.

How does electric vehicle charging work?

Times are changing, and the era in which combustion vehicles were the only ones on our roads has come to an end. Today, and in an increasingly notable way, combustion vehicles and electric vehicles coexist on a daily basis. The technology and availability of electric cars has grown significantly in the last decade and their sales now account for 37% of the total market in countries such as Norway (absolute leader), 1.7% in France and close to 1% in Spain and the United Kingdom.

However, charging this type of vehicle is very different from what we are used to. While we know perfectly well how to charge our cars, and we are starting to familiarise ourselves with domestic charging points, which are very similar to a post with a plug, do we know how a fast charging station for electric vehicles works? Let’s go for it