Those taking a drive through Troup County in their electric vehicles now have a charging station powered by the sun.
Georgia’s first solar-powered charging station — free to motorists using it — was dedicated Wednesday at the state visitor information center in West Point, Ga., a community located near the Alabama border and home to the Kia Motors auto assembly plant.
The technology, which includes a partnership with the Ray C. Anderson Foundation, is aimed at creating a highway as low on harmful emissions as possible. Georgia Tech students have researched ways to create environmentally friendly roads, including solar panels built into them, using asphalt that generates electricity for vehicles passing over them, and plant-based walls that act as filters against noxious emissions.
“Georgia ranks second in the nation for registered electric vehicles. The installation of the PV4EV is a progressive move to help promote more broad adoption of EV’s in Georgia,” John Lanier, executive director of the Ray C. Anderson Foundation, said in a statement. “The charging station’s placement at the West Point VIC makes travel more convenient for electric vehicle drivers between West Georgia and Alabama.”
Lanier is the grandson of Anderson, the founder of Interface Inc., a global manufacturer of modular carpet and other textile fabrics. Anderson, a Georgia Tech graduate, died of cancer in 2011. Launched in LaGrange, Ga., the company is now headquartered in Atlanta.
The charging station installed at the West Point visitor center is “PV4EV,” short for “photovoltaic for electric vehicle.” It is powered by a Spotlight Solar LIFT, with the ability to quick charge a vehicle to 80 percent of capacity in less than 45 minutes.
The West Point charging site is situated on a 16-mile stretch of Interstate 85 in Troup County, referred to as “The Ray” in honor of Anderson, but also symbolizing the potential for developing a low-emission highway of the future.
Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, which operates a massive auto plant in West Point, also sponsored the solar-powered station, with a Kia Soul vehicle being charged during the dedication Wednesday. State and local officials attended the event.
There are more than 234,000 plug-in electric vehicles on U.S. roads today, according to Energy.gov, with 3.3 million hybrid vehicles operating on a combination of electricity and gasoline.