The first solar panel charging station for electric vehicles was unveiled at Governors Square on Thursday, June 23. This is the first such charging station, not only in the Cayman Islands, but in the Caribbean.
The prototype charging station is a collaborative effort between various local businesses all keen to see the Cayman Islands move towards using clean, renewable energy in the near future.
A Chevrolet Volt, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle - the first such vehicle to be brought to the Caribbean - was stationed in one of the parking spaces at Governors Square and plugged into a mock charger, alongside an artist rendering of what the final charging station will look like.
“Today we have reached an agreement that Governors Square will be the first location in the Caribbean to have a solar powered charging station,” said John Felder, president of Cayman Automotive.
Special wind-resistant solar panels have been selected and will be installed above the parking space, forming a canopy. The charging station will also be connected to the CUC grid so that when not charging electric vehicles it can feed generated power back into the grid. During hours of insufficient sunlight, the charging station will be able to draw power from the grid, if needed.
The level 2 charger will be able to completely charge an electric vehicle in four to six hours. This is significantly faster than the level 1 domestic chargers which require between 10 and 12 hours to fully charge an electric car.
Electric vehicle owners will be able to visit shops, businesses, restaurants or go to work while their vehicles are being charged, thereby providing a boost for local business.
Fourteen charging stations are planned across Grand Cayman and will be located close to retail and business outlets. Charging stations will be located at: Cayman Motor Museum, Fosters (West Bay, the Strand, Airport and Savannah), Andy’s Car Rental (Seven Mile Beach and Airport), Governors Square, Camana Bay, Hurley’s, the Reef Resort and Kaibo. “All these people have raised their hands and said ‘Yes, we want these charging stations’,” said Mr. Felder. Some of these locations will use the level three charger which will reduce charge time to 20 to 30 minutes.
Electric vehicle owners will be able to visit shops, businesses, restaurants or even go to work while their vehicles are being charged, at the same time that it provides a boost for local businesses.
There will be no charge for using the solar powered charging stations.
Mr. Felder has been working for the past six years to make electric vehicles a reality in the Cayman Islands and earlier this year sold the first Chevy Volt to CUC. Although current legislation does not permit 100 percent electric vehicles to be licenced and driven on Cayman’s roads, Mr. Felder said new legislation has been written. “We are in the final steps now,” he said at a recent news conference. The Chevy Volt can be driven now as it is classed as a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.
Later this year, Mr. Felder plans to bring in two new models of fully electric vehicle: the Tazzari Zero and the Wheego, both of which have maximum speeds of 85 mph and a range of 100 miles. These cars, he says, will be available at around half the cost of the Chevrolet Volt.
Cayman Automotive has been developing plans in collaboration with experts from Corporate Electric, LAS Development and the US-based Eaton corporation to ensure the underlying infrastructure is in place so that as soon as legislation is passed, charging stations can be installed and customers will be able to use their electric vehicles, safe in the knowledge that they will not run out of power.