Environmentally friendly vehicles get a “charge” out of York University

York University is charged up to provide solar energy to its electric-vehicle commuters thanks to a smart initiative out of the Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES).

Professor Jose Etcheverry and his research team have developed and built a smart grid solar-powered charging station that can store solar electricity and withstand the bitter cold of a Canadian winter. The York University initiative is in line with a recent provincial decision to invest in electric-vehicle charging stations and a global push toward tackling climate change.

The research and charging station was unveiled on Friday, Dec. 11 and is located in the Vanier Parking Lot on the University’s Keele campus.

York U solar charging station

The York University Solar Charging Station is situated in the Vanier College Parking on the University’s Keele campus

The Ontario Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca, who is an alumnus of Osgoode Hall Law School at York University, officially plugged in the charging station at a ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday morning. He accompanied by York U President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri, FES Dean Noël Sturgeon, and Professor Jose Etcheverry, who led the initiative.

Data from the station will be used to inform the development of smart grid solutions and the implementation of additional electric charging stations, connected to the power grid at York University, to reduce pollution and greenhouse gases.

“At York University we are committed to being a leader in sustainability, and central to this is the fight against climate change,” said Shoukri. “This exciting and innovative project is an important part of our efforts—and an excellent example of York’s commitment to socially responsive research — as it uses clean, renewable energy while also encouraging the use of electric vehicles to lower our carbon footprint.”

The station uses “made in Ontario-only” solar systems and components that are ideal for extreme winter weather, while fostering new local opportunities.

With the use of fossil fuels for transportation pegged as one of the biggest sources of pollution in Canada and beyond, the solar charging station is a start toward reducing emissions. It is an on the ground practical and local response to climate change, and an innovative smart grid approach for increasing electric mobility solutions on campus.

Mission accomplished! Above: From left, Faculty of Environmental Studies Professor Jose Etcheverry, York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri, MPP and York U alumnus Stephen Del Duca, and Faculty of Environmental Studies Dean Noel Sturgeon

Mission accomplished! Above: From left, Faculty of Environmental Studies Professor Jose Etcheverry, York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri, York U alumnus and the Ontario Minister for Transportation Steven Del Duca, and Faculty of Environmental Studies Dean Noël Sturgeon

“This solar electric vehicle charging station aims at inspiring new practical local solutions and additional innovations to reduce climate change and pollution,” said Etcheverry.

The charging station is modular in design and can be easily installed in most parking areas. “It is tailor-made for Canadian weather and can be installed anywhere where solar resources are available,” added Etcheverry.

“The Ontario government is supportive of green, clean, innovative technology that will transform the way we live, move, work and adapt to our environment,” said Del Duca. “Charging stations that are fast, reliable and affordable will encourage Ontarians to purchase electric vehicles, reducing greenhouse gas pollution and keeping our air clean.”

The goals of the project include showcasing Ontario-made solutions that enable technological innovation, environmental protection and knowledge mobilization. The result is the development of practical policy suggestions to increase the use of renewable energy in the transportation sector.

Members of the project team gather for a photo following the official opening of the solar power charging station at York University's Keele campus

Members of the project team gather for a photo following the official opening of the solar power charging station at York University’s Keele campus

The project is funded by the Toronto Atmospheric Fund, Metcalf Foundation, Mitacs and is a practical research collaboration between York University’s Sustainable Energy Initiative and Campus Services and Business Operations. Private sector partners include: Kinetic Solar, Silfab, Sun Country Highway, Daymak, Enterprise CarShare, Canadian Energy, Solar Trust and Joshua Four.

York University has been named as one of Canada’s Greenest Employers for the past three years. It was also ranked second by Corporate Knights magazine on its Future 40 Responsible Corporate Leaders list for 2015.

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