November 24, 2020
Clean-mobility startup Beam Global last month joined forces with the City of San Diego to install 50 off-grid electric vehicle charging stations that will be available to the public free-of-charge.
"San Diego is already a leader in clean technology and certainly in the adoption of electric vehicles," Desmond Wheatley, CEO of Beam Global, told Cheddar. "It just happens to be the city in which we have our factory and our headquarters as well."
The partnership is a test case for an approach to electric vehicle charging that Beam would like to extend across the country.
Wheatley pointed out that San Diego has particularly strict rules and regulations around outdoor signage and media. This is crucial because the free model depends on a corporate sponsor to cover the overhead of the stations in exchange for naming rights and brand placement. If Beam can make the model work there, he added, it can make it work anywhere.
The appeal of the partnership for San Diego — outside of costing the city nothing — is the relative ease of choosing sites for off-grid stations.
"What's really great about these systems, in particular, is that it's easy to site them," said Cody Hoover, San Diego's chief sustainability officer. "You're not restricted to a lot of the other infrastructure needs that you do for traditional EV charging."
Beam's patented EV ARC™ 2020 charging stations use solar power and on-board energy storage to create stations that require no permitting, no construction, and no utility bill.
They also fit in a standard parking space without cutting into parking capacity.
Other than the convenience, the model tracks with San Diego's Climate Action Plan, which has set specific goals for reducing transportation emissions over the next decade and a half.
"We adopted it about five years ago, and one of the biggest pieces of our emissions pie, if you think about it that way, is transportation," Hoover said. "There's a lot of ways to reduce those emissions. Electrifying transportation is a big one, shifting all those emissions to the grid, and then really cleaning up the grid and making that renewable."
Two of the city's goals are to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half and make the city's grid 100 percent renewable energy by 2035. Off-grid stations allow the city to build out its EV charging network without putting an additional burden on the grid.
After Beam tests the partnership in San Diego, Wheatley said the plan is to expand nationally and internationally.
"Frankly, we're called Beam Global for a reason," he said. "We intend to take this overseas as well and repeat internationally.