Solar + EV: Drive on Sunshine, Save Big Bucks
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Part 3 of 3
Previously: Part 2 we talked about the basics of Electric Vehicle charging, and revealed the Solar Gallon.
We rely on cars. Cars bring us to work, to Hannaford, or up to camp. We make serious investments into owning cars with a good reputation, and we spend a lot of money to make sure they stay in motion. Now, electric vehicles, particularly when powered by the sun, have improved the cost of reliability forever.
What is the real cost of owning a gas-powered vehicle? None of us are oblivious to prices at the pump, but we might be surprised that we spend as much as $20,000 on gasoline over the lifetime of our cars. Fuel aside, maintaining and repairing a motor vehicle can also cost thousands, all told. These expenses accumulate with both mundane regularity and messy unpredictability, month after month, year after year.
Are you ready to put that money back into your pocket, reduce your power bill, and increase the value of your home?
Oil has really been the only option for most people for a long time, but it’s destructive to extract and consume our ultimately finite reserves. In the last decade, the market has changed course toward a cleaner, more efficient solution that saves money: Electric transportation.
Indeed, the shift in America’s auto market has already begun. The concept is proven – the technology works, and is only getting better.
Faster, Better, Stronger
Electric vehicles have inherent advantages in efficiency and torque over gas-powered vehicles. Energy storage-to-torque on an EV platform is above 90 percent efficient, compared to less than 35 percent for internal combustion engines. EVs don’t need gears – all their torque is available, all the time. Let’s just say, EVs are quick.
Though speedy, EVs are far more peaceful than cars with internal combustion engines, which are basically experiencing a bunch of explosions under the hood. They have about 100x fewer moving parts, the absence of which results in far less maintenance needs. No more thrown belts, blown gaskets, cracked cylinder heads, or spun rods. No more oil changes.
EVs are safer, too. Crash-test dummies prefer EVs due to large, frontal crash-protection crumple zones (no engine block), “double bumpers” (a Tesla feature), low centers of gravity (lithium-ion battery placement), and, of course, the lack of a flammable tank of fuel (adiós gasoline).
Those fuel costs we mentioned earlier? EVs cut that expense in half. In fact, electricity is significantly cheaper than gas in all 50 states. Better yet, if you change the equation by installing a PV system to charge your EV, costs shrink to about a third of current gasoline prices.
One day soon, efficient EVs will merge with autonomous driving software that will make the cars of tomorrow safe, green, and connected. This convergence is a logical progression as autonomous driving technology improves. EVs are great for ride-sharing programs in population centers where charging infrastructure is abundant, and it is easier for computers to drive electric vehicles.
Earlier this year, the Volkswagen Group introduced a concept car that sets its autonomous sights beyond what most EV makers are exploring today. The “Sedric,” requiring no human driver, would serve as a shared mobility system, and Volkswagen Group plans to become a leading mobility provider by 2025 and while evolving in part to become a software and services company.
The Solar Gallon
EV mileage is discussed in terms of MPGe (Miles per gallon gasoline equivalent), comparing the energy content of gasoline to electricity, and the eGallon, representing the cost of powering a vehicle with electricity compared to fueling a similar motor vehicle.
Most all-electric vehicles on the market are capable of over 100 MPGe, and with the average eGallon price of $1.67 in Northern New England, and as low as $1.46 in Maine, it’s easy to visualize significant savings. (Source DOE)
But what about the solar gallon? It’s like the eGallon, but thanks to solar power it emits no carbon, has no significant hidden environmental costs, and leaves a much lighter footprint on society at large. A solar gallon also happens to cost 71 cents.
The solar gallon is a slightly conservative estimate based upon average efficiencies of both motor vehicles and EVs, factored with the levelized cost of a typical residential solar array that provides charging – so it’s exciting to mention that it might be cheaper than 71 cents in your case.
The best part? The solar gallon is locked in over the lifetime of your solar array! With an EV, your cost savings on gas accelerates the payback of your solar investment, and after the array is paid for in fuel savings, you will essentially receive free power for the life of the system. A fixed rate of $0.71 per eGallon is evidence of the unbeatable synergy of solar and EVs.
When you pair solar power with EVs, you break the connection between driving and carbon pollution created by utilities to produce electricity, and you step toward energy independence. This holistic approach sees PV charging and EVs as two parts of a whole. By budgeting a PV system as part of an EV’s cost, you create a valuable charging package that gives you a better return on investment, and produces free energy for your car and home for years to come.
With electricity, we now have a choice as to how to power our cars. Using electricity produced within the United States for our transportation needs is a big leap away from reliance upon foreign oil, and when we use locally generated solar electricity to power vehicles – drastically reducing the greenhouse gases involved before – we leap to where we really ought to be.
Driving on sunshine is the fullest realization of EVs on the road. By unifying EVs and solar, we create enormous savings, greatly reduce environmental harm, and strengthen America’s energy independence – that, is the world’s first truly reliable car.