BEAM Global Solar Charging Can Expand EV Charging Access and Make It More Equitable
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BEAM Global Solar Charging Can Expand EV Charging Access and Make It More Equitable

BEAM Global EV charging station, showing two charging ports and the large solar panel above
  • BEAM Global’s EV ARC, a wireless, solar-powered EV charging system, could help revolutionize EV infrastructure.
  • Off-grid solar EV chargers are typically cheaper to install and save on space in dense parking areas.
  • If it were used in multifamily housing, the EV ARC could make charging more inclusive, accessible, and equitable.

BEAM Global was recently granted a patent for a wireless EV charging system called the EV ARC. That is pretty cool. No product announcements have been made yet, but BEAM’s aim is to add that wireless function to existing stations as well as those installed going forward, BEAM told Electrify News in a recent interview.


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In the here and now, a cool aspect of the BEAM charging system is its use of solar power rather than drawing on the electrical grid.

These types of off-grid solar systems are ideal for expanding EV charging infrastructure, and they can make access to EV charging more equitable. Come to think of it, the wireless capacity can make BEAM charging stations safer, too. All can help speed EV adoption.


BEAM Solar Charging Stations in Los Angeles

The City of Los Angeles is a “very active market” for BEAM, Sandra Peterson, BEAM’s vice president of sales and marketing, told Electrify News. Most recently, BEAM Global received an order from the city for more of its StreetsLA EV ARC off-grid solar chargers, which are used to power the city’s growing fleet of electric vehicles.

The Los Angeles Recreation & Parks department has also placed several orders for the off-grid solar systems.


EV ARC Advantages

The BEAM Global charging system has several advantages. Of course, solar power is more environmentally friendly than other ways of generating electricity, making it great for charging an EV and riding truly “clean.”

But on the money-saving side of things, there is no need to upgrade the grid to accommodate BEAM solar charging stations. And because it is independent of the grid, there is no need to tear up the ground or do other disruptive stuff during installation.

“The cost advantage can be tremendous,” Peterson said. “You don’t need the installation cost for the electrical upgrade [and] there is a utility bill savings.”

An EV ARC doesn’t take up much space — each one fits in a regular parking space. It doesn’t draw energy from the grid, saving on electricity fees but also allowing vehicles to charge even if there is an electrical outage. The EV ARC can also be used to charge mobile phones and laptops.


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BEAM Off-Grid Solar Systems’ Flexibility

Each EV ARC supports two charging stations, and the off-grid solar EV charger works with most EVSE brands.

The StreetsLA charging systems are equipped with two Enel X Juicebox Pro EV charging stations, for example. But UCLA and Blink, another charging station maker, have placed an order for EV ARC systems to use at the campus health center and to recharge the university fleet, Peterson said.

The BEAM off-grid solar systems are also much easier to move around, though it’s not like you can use a pickup to move them. They weigh from 10,000 to 12,00 pounds and can be moved with a forklift for short distances, Peterson said. For longer distances, BEAM Global markets an ARC mobility trailer “designed to move them efficiently,” she said.


From Fire Station to COVID Testing

The City of Oakland had an EV ARC that it wasn’t using much during COVID, Peterson related. So, the BEAM solar system was transported to a pop-up COVID testing booth using an ARC mobility trailer and employed instead of a diesel generator to power the laptops and the equipment needed.

The EV ARC has a panel that allows for such external power uses.


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More Equitable Access to EV Charging

Although BEAM hasn’t ventured into this space yet, a really exciting use for the EV ARC would be to expand access to EV charging in multifamily housing such as apartments and condos. That could make access to EV charging more equitable.

Right now, the vast majority of charging takes place at single-family homes. That means that access is inequitable because studies have found people of color are more likely than non-Latino White people to live in multifamily and rented homes. Yet, communities of color were as least as interested in an EV purchase as other communities, a study found.

Electrical capacity constraints are one barrier to installation of EV charging in multi-unit housing, according to a report by the International Council on Clean Transportation.

With off-grid solar systems such as the EV ARC, “all you need is a parking spot and the sunshine,” Peterson said. “Apartments can’t spend months digging up the parking lot. The owner or manager of a property can put [the EV ARC] where they want them without tearing up the parking lot.”

Oh, and the safety aspect? When the wireless charging function is deployed, a person can just sit in their car and punch info into their phone to start charging.

BEAM Global isn’t the only company with solar charging systems. There are other options. Given the advantages to solar charging, anyone installing an EV charging station should consider those solar-powered options.

But solar is especially exciting because it can make access to EV charging more equitable by expanding charging for people who live in multi-unit housing and in areas that haven’t built out robust charging infrastructure yet.


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IMAGES: BEAM

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AUTHOR: 

ALYSHA WEBB

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