Brought my 2014 Nissan LEAF to a National Drive Electric Week event in Littleton, Colo. today (Sept. 20). About 30 other area EV owners zipped over to the event -- including many on electricity generated by home solar systems.
LEAFs were highest in number, but there were several Volts and half a dozen Teslas on hand as well. There was also a Brammo motorcycle on display. Event-goers could test drive a BMW i3, a Nissan LEAF, a Chevy Volt, or a Tesla Model S.
Although attendance wasn't super high -- perhaps due in part to the fact that the event, held in a shopping mall parking lot, did not have big enough signs, a steady stream of people stopped by. I spoke with several interested potential EV buyers, including one woman whose interest in an EV rose considerably when she realized she could lease an EV affordably across as little as two years.
Took a trip from Aurora, Colo. to Boulder, Colo. today in our 2014 solar-charged Nissan LEAF -- and racked up 114 Sun Miles in the process. That's the most I've driven in the LEAF -- which we've had about 2 months -- on a single day.
Plugged into a solar-charging station (check out the photo at right, which is a postcard perfect one for the joys and wonders of Driving on Sunshine) in Boulder briefly to make sure I had enough charge to get back home.
Yes, you can Run Your Car on Sun, completely emissions free, have fun in the process, and save money as well. If you calculate 30 m.p.g. and $4 per gallon as the point of comparison, we've saved more than $300 worth of gas while zooming around in our zippy solar-charged LEAF SV for about 2,400 miles so far.
Sun Miles®, meaning miles driven by an electric vehicle (EV) or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) whose batteries have been charged using solar energy and/or using electricity from kWh credits amassed via solar offset generation.During the past six years, my wife Julie and I have generated 60 megawatt hours of electricity with our 7.5 kW home solar system – and we’ve driven more than 60,000 of what SolarChargedDriving.Com calls
Differently put, for the past six years, we’ve owned our own solar micro power plant.
By July of 2012, the $30,000 we spent on our solar PV system was completely recovered by the savings in utility and gasoline cost.
10. You help drive solar – and EVs/PHEVs – forward!
Who can solar-charge their EV or PHEV?
How much electricity will I need to solar-charge my EV/PHEV?
How big of a roof area will I need to solar-charge my EV/PHEV?
How powerful a solar system will I need to solar-charge my EV/PHEV?
Though not everyone will be in position to do this, a good percentage of homeowners -- especially those who live in a modest sized house, are energy conscious, and live in a sunny part of the U.S., or a sunny part of the world -- should be able to cover at least part of their annual EV/PHEV charging via their home solar system.
I want to solar-charge my EV/PHEV. What should I tell a solar installer, what information will they need?
You should be clear about whether you want to be able to cover 100-percent of your annual EV/PHEV miles, 50-percent, etc.
It might turn out that for a variety of reasons – system cost being the most significant – you may not be able to fully charge your EV/PHEV off of your solar system. However, even if, annually, speaking, you are able to cover 50-percent, 25-percent, two-percent, or even not cover any EV/PHEV miles at all with your solar system, environmentally speaking, it still makes sense to go solar.
This is because, in going solar with, for example, a system that covers 50-percent of your home electric use but zero percent of your EV/PHEV charging, you will still be increasing the renewable energy mix of the entire electric grid! If enough people do this, then perhaps 50-percent, or even more of the electricity charging your EV off the collective power grid will be generated by solar.
What percentage of homeowners installing solar are looking to power a future EV/PHEV with sun power and asking to “oversize” their systems in order to support this possibility?
Approximately how many American homeowners could build a large enough solar system on their home, or elsewhere on their property, in order to partially, or fully, power an EV or PHEV off the sun?
How much money will I save by solar-charging an EV or a PHEV?
"Our modest solar system cost us $19,000. We've driven, so far, 160,000 miles on our two Nickel Metal Hydride ("NiMH") battery-powered Toyota RAV4-EVs, avoiding purchase of 8,000 gallons of gasoline. At even $2 gas it's $16,000 after-tax dollars that we didn't have to spend supporting oil wars. Then, we get the satisfaction of sailing right by gas stations, don't need 'em, and of donating excess electricity to the grid at the time it needs it most (over $200 this year so far!). And all of our domestic electric power for no additional cost. This will last as long as the PV system, at least 25 years, and as long as we can get plug-in cars (the difficult part)."
And, of course, Korthof is saving on his home utility bill as well. He claims that solar-charged drivers who cover 100-percent of their home electric use and 100-percent of their driving will realize the break-even point on their solar system in three years, which is a lot less than the seven to 10 year average for a system that covering all, or part, of a given household's electricity use.
In the end, some things are certain:
What if I can’t solar-charge one-hundred percent of the miles I drive?
Just as important, if you’re using solar to cover one-hundred, or 50, or even 25 percent of your home’s electricity needs, you’ll be reducing your carbon footprint, and reducing other forms of pollution associated with fossil-fuel burning, including sulfur dioxide emissions, particulate emissions, and the release of mercury into the environment.
By going solar, you’ll be driving solar and clean, renewable energy forward. You’ll also get the satisfaction of spinning your home electric meter backwards at least some of the time. Additionally, you’ll get the satisfaction of displaying your commitment to a cleaner, greener world to your neighbors by way of the solar system on your rooftop. Finally, you could be motivated to reduce your home energy electric use so that you can put some of the energy generated by your home solar system for the drive.
Another option is to power only your EV or PHEV by way of solar panels installed on your garage roof, or on a Solar Carport. This might be a good option for people who don’t have the rooftop and/or yard space to power both their home electricity and an EV off of solar panels. Some companies, among them, Envison Solar in California, have recently begun building and selling solar systems designed specifically for a garage roof or as a stand-alone, metal Solar Carport. It’s called the LifePort. It doesn’t necessarily have to be tied into the power grid, though it does need to be on the grid in order for buyers to eligible for the power company and federal tax credits Envision trumpets on its web site.
What if my annual home electric use, my roof size, the direction my roof faces, and/or where I live prevent me from building a system that can also solar-charge an EV and/or PHEV?
What counts as a solar-charged car? What if I charge my EV/PHEV at night and drive my EV/PHEV the next day? Does this count as solar-charged driving?
If the yearly output from your solar system equals, or exceeds, the total amount of electricity you use for your home and which you need to charge your EV to drive it the number of miles you have driven it, this is, indeed, “true” solar-charged driving. Purists might say 100-percent of the juice that flows into your EV’s battery during the year must come directly from the sun, or it’s not “true” solar-charged driving. Of course, unless you live in the desert, few people would be able to achieve this, though it is certainly an enviable ideal.
In terms of a PHEV and solar-charging, the same things discussed above apply -- with a caveat: Sun Miles™ for a PHEV are, of course, only those miles powered solely by the PHEV battery. Plus, only the annual battery-powered miles you accrue on your PHEV which allow you to keep your home electric usage and your PHEV battery miles within the total yearly output of your home solar system qualify, according to the SCD.Com schemata, as “true” Sun Miles™.
I want to let the world know that I’m driving on the sun – and encourage others to do the same. What are some different ways I can do this?
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