ATR Develops Solar Tracking Electric Car Charging Station
Columbia, MD – A high-efficiency, high-visibility solar-powered car-charging system made by a Maryland company is giving electric vehicle owners a means to refuel their vehicles with clean energy – and just as important, a way for businesses to attract and serve this new class of consumer: the EV driver.
Advanced Technology & Research Corp., an engineering and manufacturing firm based in Columbia, Md., recently installed its first high-efficiency, small-footprint Sun-Tracking Solar EV Charging Station at an auto-related business, Win Kelly Chevrolet/Buick/GMC of Clarksville, which sells the Chevy Volt. A ribbon-cutting today gave business owners from several different fields – including automotive, hospitality and real estate – the opportunity to view the innovative system and see how it can attract EV drivers.
“The ATR Sun-Tracking Solar EV Charging Station is amazing,” declared Kevin Bell, Win Kelly’s president. “It generates free solar power to charge our electric vehicles, and when not in use charging a vehicle, it feeds back into the grid. Its biggest asset, though, is that it makes a dramatic and immediate merchandising statement that we sell EVs and are a green company,” Bell said.
“Electric vehicles can be the future of energy efficient transportation," said Congressman John Sarbanes. "By making it easier for drivers to recharge their cars – especially using innovative, clean energy, solar-powered car-chargers – we can create jobs, encourage consumers to choose vehicles that protect the environment and decrease our dependence on foreign oil.”
County Executive Ken Ulman said, “I am exceedingly proud that one of our own local companies, ATR, has developed such cutting-edge technology in the field of renewable energy; and that another local company, Win Kelly, had the foresight and initiative to purchase this innovative, high-profile solar car-charger and make it available to EV drivers.” Ulman added, “This partnership between Win Kelly and ATR is unique and reinforces that Howard County continues to lead the way when it comes to environmental sustainability.”
The Sun-Tracking Solar Car-Charger, with six solar panels set on an 18-foot-tall pole, is highly visible and quite striking, yet it occupies only about the same ground footprint as a light pole. The system’s solar array utilizes ATR’s GPS-based sun-tracking technology to produce 30% to 45% more power than rooftop or canopy-mounted solar panels. The pole-top mount keeps the panels well overhead, and the system is grid-tied to assure continuous availability of charging power.
“ATR’s solar-powered EV charging station is just the kind of convenient, environmentally friendly innovation that’s needed to draw EV-driving consumers to our county’s businesses,” said State Delegate Guy Guzzone. “With its highly efficient and eye-catching systems, ATR is helping bring the future to Howard County,” Guzzone added.
Maryland Energy Administration Director Malcolm Woolf commented that “ATR's application of innovation and engineering expertise has produced a terrific hybrid system that helps pave the way for the growing number of electric vehicles in Maryland.” An MEA grant using federal stimulus funds is helping bring the Solar Car-Charger and ATR’s other sun-tracking solar devices to market.
“EV owners are making an important and strongly eco-friendly choice by buying electric vehicles in the first place,” said Rob Lundahl, ATR’s VP for Energy & Automation. “And these same eco-minded values are going to influence their choices of where they refuel their cars, shop, go out to eat and stay overnight. EV charging stations will be the least this new and growing class of consumer will look for,” Lundahl said.
“Having a charging system powered by solar energy will, we think, really give businesses an advantage because many EV owners want to make their whole EV experience, including recharging, as sustainable as possible,” Lundahl added. In addition, the high profile of ATR’s Solar-Powered EV Charging Station acts as a beacon, letting drivers know that a charging station is nearby.
ATR installed its first sun-tracking solar EV charging station last August in a busy commercial section of Bethesda, Md., where it’s serving local EV owners as well as those passing through. The company also recently put up an array of 12 dual-panel, sun-tracking devices to provide electricity for the Columbia Association’s River Hill Pool and Neighborhood Center. The same type of device is powering small electric vehicles at the Mid-Atlantic Terminal at the Port of Baltimore and helping lower the electric bills at area homes. And last year, the George Howard Building in Ellicott City got pole-mounted, single-panel sun-tracking devices for their parking lot.
Advanced Technology & Research Corp. (ATR) is a Maryland-based engineering firm with a 38-year history of excellence in military systems, robotics and automation equipment. Over the past three years, the company has developed a suite of solar power systems for small-scale commercial and residential applications. All ATR Solartech systems feature state-of-the-art sun-tracking technology for enhanced energy production from photovoltaic panels, mounts designed for vertical structures, small footprints and strong aesthetics. Produced in Maryland, ATR Solartech products include distributed solar power generation systems for lighting and utility poles, ground-mounted systems for residential clean energy production, solar-powered electric vehicle charging stations, and the solar components of hybrid wind-solar systems.
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