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University of Piraeus tests first solar-powered electric car charging station

By Yiannis Elafros

Greece’s first solar-powered charging station for electric cars ensures 100 percent green energy and was recently launched by the Piraeus University of Applied Sciences. It is still in the experimental stage and is being used for training and research purposes.

The charging station only uses solar power, which is turned into electricity and can charge electric car batteries, representing the first step for electric vehicle owners to no longer have to be reliant on power from the main electricity grid.

“We tried to make a charging station that operates exclusively with renewable energy sources so that electric cars, the cleanest vehicles currently in operation, can work on truly clean energy,” says Professor Ioannis Kaldelis, from the Department of Mechanical Engineering’s Workshop for Renewable Energy Sources and Environmental Protection, which is responsible for the project.

“Let us not forget that most of the electricity in Greece is produced mainly with lignite and also with natural gas, both of which are imported,” adds Kaldelis. “Making the charging station was easy. In a covered area, we installed 3 KW photovoltaic panels, which produce enough energy to charge one car in winter and two in the summer when there’s more sunshine. Drivers can either recharge their vehicles directly at the station or fill their batteries.”

The charging station, which is located outside the workshop on the Elaionas campus, was created by the workshop (the idea belongs to Giorgos Spyropoulos), with the help of undergraduate and postgraduate students. It was bankrolled by the university and private companies.

“We saw that electric vehicles are gradually gaining ground so we wanted to come up with a solution to the charging issue. Setting up a station like this takes no more than two weeks, red tape aside,” explains Kaldelis.

An electric car that is almost fully charged can travel between 100-150 kilometers, according to Kaldelis.

“It is a great solution for small Greek islands,” he says of the charging station. “First of all, they get a lot of sun. They are also small enough so the 100-150 kilometers of power is sufficient for local and tourists to get around on a day-to-day basis.”

Kaldelis adds that the cost of building charging stations on a mass scale at multiple locations would bring their individual cost to around 15,000-20,000 euros, making them an affordable option if electric cars are in wide use.

While they are an increasingly visible phenomenon, there are still just 60 fully electric cars in circulation in Greece. The cost can seem daunting at 20,000 (for just a handful of models) to 60,000 euros but the savings come from the fact that it only costs about 1-2 euros to run for 100 kilometers. Systems for charging the car faster than the 7-8 hours it takes at a regular plug can cost around 3,000 euros but cut the time by half.

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