Solar-powered parking structures combined with electric vehicle (EV) chargers have been taking off recently like wildflowers in spring. Envision, which makes its Solar Tree, sun-tracking parking structures, has already seen its sales jump to $2 million in the first half of 2011, and it expects them to shoot up higher in 2012.
Most recently, it announced that it sold $1 million of its Solar Trees for deployment in Southern California, said President Desmond Wheatley.
“We are deploying our trees in the northeast of this country as well,” he said.
The Solar Trees are designed for commercial applications, according to Wheatley. Each “tree” covers six parking spots and can produce roughly 28,000 kilowatt hours per year in the Southeast U.S.
“At the end of the day, the Solar Tree produces enough power to charge six electric vehicles during the day,” Wheatley said.
The CleanCharge system, which offers Level 2 EV charging—enough power to charge an EV in roughly 6 hours—is an accessory to the Solar Tree, Wheatley said.
“Almost every customer we’re talking to is interested in at least one or two chargers,” he said.
Like other solar-powered EV chargers, the systems can be tied into the grid. They can also be tied to battery storage, Wheatley said. In one such example, they can be used to power lights at night.
The company also offers a smaller one-parking-spot sized, one-vehicle charger called the Socket, according to Wheatley. But the company is focused on the commercial market, which includes government and educational facilities.
“We don’t think charging at home is going to be as important as [charging at work]. We think charging at work is going to be big,” Wheatley said. “We believe we’ll see municipalities requiring electric charging stations. We’re seeing a lot of interest in the product as a result of that.”
Soon they’ll be cropping up like disabled parking spots today, according to Wheatley.
Sales will continue to pick up throughout the rest of 2011.
“There’s no question about it,” Wheatley said. “People are starting to hear more about us. We anticipate stronger sales in 2011 for the rest of the year and 2012 will far outstrip it.”