Have you noticed a lot more electric vehicles driving around lately? Adoption of Electric Vehicles (EV’s) has been growing dramatically over the last several years.
California has the greatest number of EV’s (Approx. 300k) on the road as incentives to drive them and the infrastructure to support them have been critical ingredients to success. EV adopters range in age, political beliefs, environmental passion and even income. The appeal of EV’s is growing but some of the hurdles to mass adoption still need to be addressed to see an EV revolution. Alternative energy, namely solar power, will play a role in overcoming some of the hurdles of EV development as well as enhance the positive environmental and economic benefits.
Many factors are driving the early EV adopter. Environmental benefits are probably the most obvious passions behind the EV driver. Yet, electric vehicles are no longer a niche that is beyond the affordability of the average consumer. Saving money on gasoline and energy in general is a huge driving factor in EV adoption. Between incentives from state and regulatory bodies and special rate schedule programs from utility providers, the economic incentive for EV drivers to switch to electric is substantial. Still, there are hurdles that prevent many potential EV adopters from pulling the plug on their petrol vehicle.
Charging an electric vehicle is a necessary step in driving the EV. This is one of the biggest hurdles to adoption as many potential drivers are not home owners and cannot afford or have the permission to install charging units on rental property. Sometimes property owners are restricted due to parking locations. The lack of infrastructure at home is a big problem but so is the lack of charging units around town and on highways; however, over 100 new DC Fast Chargers or Level 3 Chargers are appearing on CA highways in late 2017 and early 2018.. Finding a place to charge an EV whether at home, at work or on the road is the biggest hurdle to EV adoption for those who would otherwise charge ahead with the decision. More workplaces and employers are installer EV Charging Stations to attract and keep the best employees.
This is where solar power can come in to bridge the gap between potential EV drivers and the hurdles that stand in the way of adoption. Solar power and energy storage are already being used to compliment electric vehicles. This is evident in the home owner’s who have deployed solar power to charge their vehicles. One can also find solar power employed by solar charging stations built by Tesla Energy. The infrastructure issue, namely the lack of charging stations to power electric vehicles, would be better dealt with when solar power is the source of the energy. Solar power and energy storage would allow charging stations to exist anywhere: on highways and in areas where connecting to the utility grid is cost prohibitive. Currently, charging stations are tied to the grid where there are limitations. Also coming within the next 6 months are Vehicle 2 Grid or V2G technology, where the battery power from vehicles, including school buses being deployed in the LA Unified School District will be able to power buildings when the buses are done and parked, the buses in essence become a battery backup system daily and can be crucial in power outage emergencies.
Besides the void that grid tied electric charging stations are not able to meet in the areas where there is no grid power, the cost of grid electricity and installation of charging stations is prohibitive. Often, cars charge during the day while people are at work. This is during times where utilities charge more for ‘peak hours’. Solar charging stations combined with energy storage will overcome these high peak hour costs. In fact, solar power may put these rates to use in a way that turns the financial tables. Employing solar power into the electric vehicle development will decrease the cost of energy to charge the vehicles, reduce overall pollution even further as well as improve the infrastructure and overall EV deployment economics. Solar powered charging stations are a win for the electric vehicle industry.