Beam Touts Off-grid Solar Power for Electric Aircraft

Beam Touts Off-grid Solar Power for Electric Aircraft

Clean-technology startup Beam Global believes it has advanced the case for off-grid solar energy as an aircraft power source with what it says was a record-breaking flight across central California. Joseph Oldham, CEO of New Vision Aviation, a not-for-profit organization providing flight training for disadvantaged communities, recently flew a Pipistrel Alpha Electro 260 miles from Fresno to Lodi, with stops in Madera, Merced, and Modesto. The all-electric light aircraft was powered entirely with Beam Global’s Electric Vehicle Autonomous Renewable Charger (EV ARC) system.

According to San Diego-based Beam, the technology generates electricity from solar power, which is delivered directly to vehicles. The EV ARC recharging units take up the space of a standard car and are intended to be quickly deployed to airfields or wherever they are needed by electric aircraft operators. They could also recharge electric ground-support vehicles at FBOs.

At the top of each unit is a solar array that converts sunlight into DC electricity, which is then stored in lithium-ion-phosphate batteries, from which the charging unit is supplied. The EV ARC unit includes a power-management system that releases an electric charge only after the aircraft (or ground vehicle) has digitally confirmed that it is the intended recipient.

“The solar array moves during the course of the day, following the sun, and this gives us about 25 percent more electricity than a fixed array on a rooftop,” said Beam CEO Desmond Wheatley.

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