North Coast PEV Charging Infrastructure

As the number of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) in Humboldt County grows, publically available charging stations are crucial to continued PEV adoption success.  According to the International Council on Clean Transportation, one out of every five new light-duty vehicles in the Eureka area is a PEV – the third highest percentage of all metropolitan areas in the United States.

One of the many benefits PEV drivers enjoy is that the majority of charging occurs overnight at home; however, there is still a need for PEV charging in public locations. Currently, there are eight active Level 2 PEV chargers available to the public in Humboldt County. SERC has partnered with the Redwood Coast Energy Authority (RCEA) to design and oversee the installation of an additional ten dual Level 2 charging stations in Humboldt County, each of which will be capable of charging two PEVs simultaneously.  The work is funded by the California Energy Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology (ARFVT) Program and is part of a regional effort to install PEV charging stations in the North Coast (Humboldt, Trinity, and Del Norte counties) and Upstate (Shasta, Siskiyou, Tehama, Colusa, and Glenn counties) regions.

Ten dual charging stations, such as the one pictured above, are slated for installation on the North Coast.  Photo credit  www.evsellc.com.

Ten dual charging stations, such as the one pictured above, are slated for installation on the North Coast. Photo credit www.evsellc.com.

The ten dual charging stations are slated for deployment this summer in nine locations: Greenway building in Arcata, North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District building in Eureka, St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka, McKinleyville Safeway shopping center, Trinidad library, China Flat Museum in Willow Creek, Rio Dell City Hall, Fortuna City Hall, and 4th St. parking lot in Ferndale.  The charging stations are sited in convenient locations for PEV drivers to charge their vehicles while completing daily tasks such as attending work, shopping, or visiting museums and libraries.

Since over half of Humboldt County’s energy-related greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation, successful PEV adoption is a positive step toward a low-carbon, sustainable transportation future for the north state region. SERC plans to continue working with RCEA and our Upstate partners to support the goal of adding more PEV charging station infrastructure throughout the North State region.

Lighting Lab Update

TERI-opening

Director Arne Jacobson at the TERI grand opening in March. Photo credit Sanjay Kumar.

The Solar Lighting Laboratory of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in New Delhi, India is open and ready for business.  Last year, SERC director Arne Jacobson and I traveled to New Delhi to complete a hands-on training for the Solar Lighting Laboratory and have since evaluated the laboratory’s work testing off-grid lighting products. Through SERC’s support and the Solar Lighting Laboratory’s hard work, TERI has established the first Asian laboratory within the Lighting Global Quality Assurance Program test laboratory network.

TERI’s Solar Lighting Laboratory will be evaluating off-grid lighting products using the International Electrotechnical Commission’s standard TS 62257-9-5. The test methods verify products by checking product ratings; measuring key product parameters such as daily hours of operation, lighting output, and solar power production; and evaluating parameters related to product durability such as LED life, shock resistance, and workmanship of electrical and mechanical parts.

In other news, in response to demand from the off-grid lighting market, the Lighting Global program has decided to extend the existing quality assurance framework to include larger solar home system kits. Compared to the lighting products we currently test, these plug-and-play direct current kits can provide more power for lighting as well as other uses, such as mobile phone charging, radios, fans and even TVs. Over the next two years, SERC will partner with the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems to adapt existing test methods and standards to reliably assess and report the quality of these larger systems.

While expanding our scope, we are also working with our wide range of stakeholders to refine our current test procedures and ensure a reliable and rigorous quality assurance framework that can be sustained for years into the future. As part of this process, Arne and other team members presented to stakeholders at the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association quality assurance symposium in Cologne, Germany in April.

We also remain committed to better promoting and communicating information about the products that have met our Quality Standards in the off-grid lighting market. As part of this ongoing effort, we have re-designed the Lighting Global website to enable interested parties to more easily view and compare 48 solar lighting products produced by over 20 different manufacturers that have met the Lighting Global Minimum Quality Standards.

Lighting Lab Welcomes New Student Assistants

Research Engineer Kristen Radecsky (right) explains to John Hunter and Melissa Lancaster how to measure a solar module’s IV curve to capture its maximum power point.

Research Engineer Kristen Radecsky (right) explains to John Hunter and Melissa Lancaster how to measure a solar module’s IV curve to capture its maximum power point.

We are pleased to have two undergraduate Environmental Resources Engineering students, John Hunter and Melissa Lancaster, working in the lighting laboratory this summer.  John and Melissa will conduct various testing procedures to assess the quality of solar off-grid lighting products.  The tests include checking product ratings, measuring product parameters such as run time and solar power, testing product durability, and examining a product’s lighting service in terms of longevity and total light output.  The test results support the Lighting Global Quality Assurance Program, which is closely associated with the Lighting Africa and Lighting Asia programs.  The goal of Lighting Global is to support the entry of quality solar off-grid lighting products into rural markets around the world. It is a joint initiative of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and World Bank.

Lighting Lab: TERI Solar Lighting Laboratory

Over the past several months, SERC has worked closely with the Solar Lighting Laboratory of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in New Delhi, India to support their effort to join the network of test laboratories affiliated with the Lighting Global Quality Assurance Program. Lighting Global, which is affiliated with the Lighting Africa and Lighting Asia programs, is a joint initiative of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and World Bank. The program supports the development of commercial markets for affordable, quality-assured lighting products for use in off-grid areas of Africa and Asia. Most products evaluated under the program are solar-charged LED lights for rural applications. A strong network of product testing laboratories is the backbone of the Lighting Global effort.

TERI-trng

SERC research engineer Kristen Radecsky answers questions about solar module testing during the technical training session at TERI University in New Delhi, India.

In March, SERC director Arne Jacobson and research engineer Kristen Radecsky traveled to New Delhi to complete a hands-on training with the Solar Lighting Laboratory. They worked alongside HSU graduate and SERC alum Brendon Mendonca and Lighting Global team member Kevin Gauna. The training covered all aspects of the Lighting Global Quality Test Methods. The methods verify the quality of products by checking product ratings, and measure product parameters such as daily hours of operation, lighting output, and solar power production. They also evaluate parameters related to product durability such as LED life, shock resistance, and workmanship of electrical and mechanical parts. The training’s success will be an asset to the Lighting Global Quality Assurance Program, as the laboratory’s strategic location at the TERI University in New Delhi, India will facilitate testing of products made and sold in India.

Off-Grid Lighting Research in Kenya

Kristen in Kenya with Hurricane Lamp

Kristen Radecsky measures a vendor’s hurricane lamp to calculate the lamp’s burn rate. (Photo credit SERC).

SERC co-director Dr. Arne Jacobson and graduate student research assistants Peter Johnstone and Kristen Radecsky traveled to Kenya this past summer to collect data for the off-grid lighting project. Lighting is often a large fraction of the operating costs for small, off-grid businesses in Kenya. Because they are not connected to the grid, they use a variety of off-grid lighting technologies to illuminate their shops– including candles, kerosene lamps, and battery powered LED lamps. Kerosene lamps are most popular, but can be expensive due to high kerosene prices. Kerosene lamps can also release tiny particulate matter that causes health problems. A number of manufacturers world-wide are designing off-grid lighting products with the goal of making them more affordable in locations like Kenya, often using LED technology.    SERC researchers will use the collected data to inform manufacturers of the costs for small businesses of using off-grid lighting products in actual field conditions and make recommendations for how lights can be better designed to make them more affordable.

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