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Smart City San Diego - projects

Solar-to-EV Project at the San Diego Zoo

In November 2012, Smart City San Diego, Mayor Jerry Sanders, and the San Diego Zoo unveiled a solar photovoltaic canopy to charge electric vehicles (EV) in the Zoo parking lot. One of the first of its kind in the country, the project uses solar energy to directly charge plug-in EVs, store solar power for future use, and provide renewable energy to the surrounding community. The Solar-to-EV project serves as a new energy infrastructure blueprint that can be replicated throughout the region and beyond.

The chaging stations are being highly utilized, with August and December 2013 seeing record plug-in events at the San Diego Zoo with 123 and 124 events respectively. The Smart City San Diego committee is discussing installing a sixth slar-to-EV station at this site to meet demand. A wonderful benefit of solar-to-EV stations is when people charge their cars here, 100% of the energy is coming from the sun, which means they are acheivng true zero emissions. 

To learn more about the Solar-to-EV Project, visit and check out the system's energy dashboard!

Located in the heart of San Diego’s world-renowned Balboa Park, the Zoo is visited by more than 3.5 million people each year. Installing this project at the Zoo was an important opportunity to showcase San Diego’s commitment to clean energy for both locals and visitors from across the globe. Additionally, the Zoo site provides additional charging options for EV drivers. 

California has established the most aggressive greenhouse-gas (GHG) reduction goals in the nation. With almost 40 percent of California’s GHG emissions coming from transportation, the state’s goal to reduce transportation GHG by more than 13 million tons by 2020 is aggressive. Integrating clean transportation alternatives will be critical to achieving these goals. The carbon dioxide saved by the Solar-to-EV project is equal to:

  • Providing energy at peak capacity to power 59 homes1.
  • Removing 189,216 lbs. of CO2 from the atmosphere1.
  • Planting 2,788 trees and allowing them to grow for ten years1.
  • Removing 21 cars from the road each year1.

Solar-to-EV Project Fact Sheet

Photo Credit: San Diego Gas & Electric.

1. US Environmental Protection Agency – Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator