What's more environmentally responsible than an electric vehicle? An EV that's recharged by the sun.
The city of Chicago recently installed the Solar Plug-in Station, a tree-shaped structure topped by solar panels that can recharge up to two electric vehicles at a time. The "solar tree" is manufactured by Chicago-based Carbon Day Automotive and operates as part of the ChargePoint Network. ChargePoint Network is a smart EV-recharging infrastructure operated by Coulumb Technologies.
The treelike structure provides an emissions-free source of electricity to power the already zero-tailpipe-emissions vehicles, offering an answer to the argument that EVs aren't environmentally responsible because the electricity to power the vehicles is generated by "dirty" electrical plants.
The stations also can act as storm water management. Captured runoff water from the roof can be recycled through the structure's gray water filtration systems and be used for irrigation or other purposes.
Without any tax incentives, grants, or subsidies, Carbon Day Automotive's solar plug-in station costs between $40,000-50,000. But enough incentives and grants exist out there to bring the cost down to approximately $15,000-20,000, the company says.
Depending on the sun and the usage, the payback period ranges around 10-15 years. The 2.2 kw system is designed to operate completely off the grid, but if state energy regulations permit, owners of the station can sell unused energy back to the grid, possibly offsetting the cost for the structure.
Chicago is the first city to install Carbon Day Automotive's Solar Plug-in Station, but the company says they have received orders from other cities and businesses across the country.