07/06/2015

The Mission Zero Corridor Starts at West Point Visitor Information Center

Recently, the city of West Point, Georgia unveiled plans for a state of the art photovoltaic quick charge station for electric vehicles (PV4EV) at a groundbreaking ceremony. Held at the Georgia Visitor Information Center located on Interstate 85 North, representatives from Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, the Ray C. Anderson Foundation, the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce, the Georgia Department of Economic Development and the City of West Point were there to celebrate this installation, which is the first of its kind in a Southeast Visitor Information Center.

This is a major breakthrough in transportation and innovation in West Georgia, allowing electric vehicles to travel from Montgomery, Alabama to Atlanta, especially to the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. The charging station will be powered by a “solar tree”, housing 3,000 watts of photovoltaic solar panels. Manufactured by Hannah Solar in Atlanta, the solar tree will directly convert sunlight to electricity. The electricity generated from the solar panels will also be connected to the power grid for the City of West Point.

“Soon, EV (electronic vehicle) drivers will be able to drive from Montgomery, Alabama, to Atlanta, Georgia, with ease,” said Harriet Langford, trustee for the Ray C. Anderson Foundation. “The PV4EV charging station will be powered from the sun.”

With the largest share of electric vehicles in the U.S. market, Georgia is looking to generate more than solar energy.

 “The way that the solar energy panels will work should keep the minimum cost for the welcome center’s operation down,” said Langford. “The ‘solar tree’ will be very eye catching, and we’re hoping that it will draw a lot of business to the welcome center.”

The “first of many innovative technologies still to be introduced” along the route allows visitors traveling through Troup County to learn more about travel and tourism opportunities while charging their cars. This is the first installation in the Mission Zero Corridor project, which aims to reinvent future highways to have only positive impacts on communities and environments. The Ray C. Anderson Foundation, in collaboration with the Georgia Conservancy Sustainable Growth Staff, the Georgia Tech School of Architecture, Interface, Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce, and the City of West Point have worked diligently to produce a study exploring the possibilities of highway sustainability and ecological conservation. The long-term project will feature new technologies as they develop, which could include air-filtering billboards and solar panels built into the highway itself for generation of electricity.

The installation project was made possible through a donation from Kia Motors in a check amounting to $100,516. Construction is already underway with projected completion in August.

“We are very fortunate in this community to have willing partners like Kia, the Georgia Conservancy and the Ray C. Anderson Foundation who realize our future hinges on developing technology, and those who understand how to best incorporate that technology into local infrastructure will better position themselves for sustainable success,” said West Point Mayor Drew Ferguson IV.

With more than 173 solar companies, several solar farms, and the fastest growing solar market in the nation, Georgia is a prime location to harvest solar energy. Breakthrough solar research is conducted at Georgia Tech’s University Center of Excellence for Photovoltaics Research and Education (UCEP), one of only two in the nation. Kia Motors recently unveiled their first electric, urban crossover vehicle, the Kia Soul EV. All of these innovations speak for the technological evolution that Georgia is experiencing. The state is working towards a more efficient, less pollutant environment one photovoltaic cell at a time.

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