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The U.S. Marine Corps placed an order last year for 21 mobile solar-powered electric vehicle charging systems. Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany was among those to benefit, receiving one unit. The Beam Global EV charging systems were purchased through the General Services Administration. Marine Corps Installations Command requires a turnkey charging infrastructure solution to solve near-term charging requirements without having to wait for construction and electrical projects to be completed. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Jennifer Parks)

Photo by Jennifer Parks

MCLB Albany among first to receive mobile solar electric vehicle charger

15 Mar 2022 | Jennifer Parks Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany

The U.S. Marine Corps placed an order in October 2021 for 21 mobile solar-powered electric vehicle charging systems to be deployed across 14 Marine Corps bases in the continental U.S. and Hawaii.

Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany was among those to benefit from this order, receiving one unit.

“The functionality of it is incredible,” Zachary Haller, mobile equipment specialist supervisor, Garrison Mobile Equipment, MCLB Albany, said.

Beam Global said its EV charging systems were purchased through the General Services Administration. Marine Corps Installations Command requires a turnkey charging infrastructure solution to solve near-term charging requirements without having to wait for construction and electrical projects to be completed.

The Beam EV ARC is a rapidly deployable, transportable, off-grid and solar-powered EV charging system supporting the accelerating integration of electric vehicles into the Marine Corps’ non-tactical vehicles fleet.

An electric vehicle supply equipment solution is required by MCICOM to bridge the gap until adequate charging station infrastructure is in place. Executive Order 14008 “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad,” dated Jan. 27, 2021, directed the development of a national plan for converting all federal fleets to clean and zero emission vehicles.

This directive in turn created a requirement for charging infrastructure.

The Beam system, now in operation at MCLB Albany, generates and stores its own clean electricity.

“We are not using any of the base’s power,” Ronnie Williams, fleet manager, GME, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, said. “And we can move it since it is mobile.”

Each unit is equipped with two EV chargers. They include an emergency power panel option for use during blackouts, or in locations where there is no utility connection available.

The systems serve as energy resiliency and energy security assets that can be relocated to charge vehicles in the event of power failures, natural disasters or emergency situations.

“Any time we have a black out or brown out, we can still have the capability to charge vehicles,” Haller said. “With an emergency power option we still have a way to hook up.”

“It will put more power to the vehicle that needs more charge,” Haller noted on the dual charging capability.

Haller and Williams said the first vehicle GME hooked up to the station, a plug-in hybrid van, was completely drained of a charge at the time. It took three hours to get back to full power.

“We were expecting it to be eight hours,” Williams said.

Williams said the system accommodates any green vehicle. He recently put in an order for MCLB Albany to receive seven new energy-efficient vehicles including utility trucks, vans and sedans. How much the base gets remains to be seen and depends on available funding.

The preference has been to order green vehicles as the need arises to replace vehicles on the installation’s fleet. This all comes as MCLB Albany is also working to get permanent charging infrastructure installed, also dependent on availability of funds moving forward.

The base has two plug-in hybrid vehicles. There will be nine vehicles should the seven additional ones all come through.

MCLB Albany also utilizes electric forklifts in maintenance and warehouse areas. Williams said there are a total of 134 GSA vehicles on the base’s fleet.

“We do not want to go fully electric,” he said, noting the limited charging infrastructure in the region for green vehicles. “It is not our goal to be fully electric, but we are heading that way. The plug-in hybrid is capable of running on fuel, but we reinforce the use of electric.”

“We want to see some use of this,” Williams added.

The size of the Beam station allows it to fit within a standard parking spot. The manufacturer claims it is wind-rated up to 120 mph and flood-proof up to 9.5 feet. It has an integrated emergency power panel and is included in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Authorized Equipment List.

Costs for sustainment of the system is $1,000 per unit annually. Remote monitoring and management systems provide real-time and historical reporting data on system performance metrics, allowing the original equipment manufacturer to run routine diagnostics and remote updates.

A card or mobile app can be used to start a charging session.

“There is a cell phone app, and the driver can set it up on radio-frequency identification cards issued to the driver,” Williams said. “It is not that difficult to get the vehicle hooked up to it.”

“The app lets you know when charging is complete and tracks costs, energy savings, how long a vehicle has been charging and how many times it has charged. The vehicle can keep a charge for two weeks before going down.”

A low battery indicator light comes on when the battery reaches a significantly reduced level, and the system turns off power to the charger when the batteries reach a partial charge. Vehicles will temporarily stop charging, and will start to charge again when enough energy is available.

Beam said the remote access dashboard transmits real-time data for reporting on the system’s power flow, rate and amount of delivery, time and duration of charging and historical energy generation and usage. Advanced access controls manage which drivers can access stations at a particular time. There are more than 35 charts, analytics and reports, and the graphical dashboard shows real-time status.

 A valet feature notifies staff when cars are done charging so they can be moved. The waitlist feature notifies drivers when a charging spot becomes available and holds it until they can plug in their vehicle.

The other 20 units were received by Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in California, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in South Carolina, Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia, NSF Naval Support Activity, Marine Corps Base Kaneohe Bay in Hawaii and Blount Island Command in Florida.

“The federal government is affirming that the electrification of transportation in the U.S. is vital to improving our economy, competitive position, national security and public health. EV ARC systems are the fastest deployed and most scalable sustainable EV charging infrastructure solution and require no construction, no electrical work and generate no utility bill,” said Beam Global CEO Desmond Wheatley in a news release. “Beam is a proud employer of veterans. We’ve had a lot of retired Marines working to produce our products.”

“Now we’re delighted to support their active-duty brothers and sisters in arms with reliable American invented and American made EV charging infrastructure products,” Wheatley added.

The GSA Federal Fleet Report for Fiscal Year 2020 shows an investment in more than 657,000 cars, SUVs and trucks. Beam’s EV charging infrastructure products are included on the GSA multiple award schedule contract.

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