New Plan Allows Electric Vehicles To Charge Using 100% Renewable Energy

Electric vehicle charging station operator Electrify America has entered into a 15-year virtual power purchase agreement (VPPA) with Terra-Gen.

The contract makes Electrify America, a subsidiary of Volkswagen Group, is the largest open network in North America to enter into a VPPA.

The agreement will see the parties build a solar photovoltaic renewable energy generation project in San Bernardino County, California. The deal may be extended at the option of Terra-Gen to include a co-located battery energy storage system that would be designed to store energy during lower requirement times, then deliver it to the grid at a later time.

According to the California Energy Commissions, solar PV and solar thermal power plants produced 29,450 Gita watt-hours (GWh) of energy in 2021. This was 15.42 percent of California's in-state generation portfolio. There were 771 operation solar power plants tabulated for that year, with an installed capacity of about 14,060 MW.

The project, called Electrify America Solar Glow 1, is expected to generate an estimated 75 Megawatts (MW) per hour at peak solar capacity for an annual total of 225,000 Megawatt-hours of coal-free electricity.

Electrify America Earth Day
Electrify America celebrated Earth Day 2022 by giving away free energy to EV drivers. Electrify America

This amount is enough to provide 100 percent renewable energy annually to Electrify America's customers.

"Electrify America's business model – and purpose – have always been at the forefront of efforts to reduce emissions through enabling electric mobility," said Giovanni Palazzo, president and CEO of Electrify America. "Our commitment to customers and to a sustainable future go hand-in-hand, which is why we are investing in renewable energy generation to commit to a net zero carbon footprint associated with the energy delivered to our customers."

Groundbreaking on the new facility is expected for late 2022. The companies expect the project to be operational by mid-2023.

In addition, Electrify America is purchasing and retiring all bundled environmental certificates associated with the new solar project over a 15-year period. This is a shift from the traditional approach to buying these certificates form a third-party supplier, or on an as-needed basis.

Electrify America's charging network is currently backed by 100 percent renewable energy, effective April 2022. This was achieved by purchasing environmental certificates.

Beginning in October 2022, Electrify America will receive the bundled environmental certificates and purchase renewable energy from Terra-Gen's existing Solar Energy Generating Systems (SEGS) IX solar thermal plant, also located in San Bernardino County.

"Electrify America is proud to support SEGS, which was instrumental to fostering renewable energy generation in the 20th Century and parallels to Electrify America's mission to advance electric vehicle adoption today", said Jigar Shah, head of energy services at Electrify America in a press release.

"In aggregate, these 100 percent renewable energy commitments address Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions for all energy delivered to our customers, and amount to an estimated 2 million metric tons in avoided CO2 emissions over 15 years - comparable to the carbon sequestered by planting nearly 40 million trees."