Kyocera Solar Inc., a locally based supplier of solar energy solutions and modules, recently announced that the company’s photovoltaic solar panels are powering the new canopy that charges electric vehicles at the San Diego Zoo.

The project, known as Solar-to-EV (electric vehicle), is run by San Diego Gas & Electric Co. and is in partnership with Smart City San Diego, a consortium of local businesses and organizations that aims to promote projects that improve the region’s energy independence and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to a news release.

“Kyocera is celebrating 41 years in San Diego, and 37 years as a leader in solar energy solutions,” Steve Hill, president of Kyocera Solar Inc., said in a news release. “We’re proud to work with other San Diego companies that are equally committed to making sustainable energy a reality, especially at one of the most well-known landmarks in the country.”

The Kyocera solar panels on the solar canopy harness the sun’s energy to charge electric vehicles in the zoo’s parking lot while the canopy itself provides shade to those electric vehicles as they charge.

New lithium-polymer battery technology allows the project’s 100-kilowatt energy storage system to be charged by the energy from the solar panels, taking demand off the electrical grid, and enables electric vehicles to be charged at night. When the battery is fully charged, any extra energy supplied by the sun is stored and put back into the grid to benefit the surrounding community, according to a news release.

The greenhouse gas emissions savings produced by the solar-to-EV project is equal to removing 21 cars from the road or the same as planting 2,788 trees each year, according to a news release.

Every Kyocera solar panel that was used in the project was manufactured at the company’s facility in San Diego.

— SDBJ Staff Report