Electric Vehicles and Solar Charging

The EV Paradigm Shift? Electric vehicles from Big Auto first appeared 5 years ago, with the introduction of the Nissan Leaf, and the new Tesla. Now Telsa rivals GM for a spot as a top auto maker, and almost all automakers are following Nissan with 100% electric versions in their fleets. Canada had 30,000 plug in EVs sold by the end of 2016, with the growth curve looking similar to the growth of the solar installations!

How does the transition to EVs effect the solar industry? Very positively so far. In Victoria a significant number of solar systems have been installed on home for EV buyers. Institutions are adding solar to EV charge stations to offset the new loads. And environmental consciousness is helping EV buyers account for the source of their energy.


PV = EV? Show me the math!

A new Nissan Leaf has a 30kWh battery, and a “nominal” range of 172km. A longer range Tesla Model S, with a 100kWh battery, has a driving range of 594km. EPA rated energy consumption ranges from 18.7 kWh to 23 kWh per 100 km respectively.

A typical residential solar installation is between 2 and 10kW of PV modules. The annual solar production per kW ranges from 1000 to 1390kWh. So, each kilowatt of PV installed equates to powering a vehicle for 5000 to 7000km per year, depending on vehicle and location. If we take a driving range of 5000 km per kilowatt of PV panels, then rooftop solar can provide:

Typical EV Solar Systems

2000 watts = 10,000 km per year

5000 watts = 25,000 km per year

Net Metering stores solar energy

A typical family day begins with unplugging the EV, driving to work or shuttling kids to activities, and after the day is done, plugging back in. So EV charging typically takes place in the evening.

If a customer installs solar to offset EV driving, they will take advantage of the utility’s Solar Net Metering Programs. These allow the solar power generated during the day to be effectively stored for customers, and then wheeled back to them in the evening. This is done in the form of a kilowatt hour credit (net metering) or a dollar amount credit against the bill (net billing).

PV solves the “Where does my electricity come from” dilemma

EV buyers have already paid more for a vehicle with a gas engine to achieve emissions free driving. But many provinces have a coal/nuclear mix. Adding more loads to electric bills is costly, and questions arrive about the cleanliness of the electrical grid.

Solar is a natural fit. First, it’s possible to offset 100% of the driving kilometers with solar, so that the net annual impact of the EV to the utility bill will be zero. Second, there’s no question about the GHG content of a PV system. Free electricity and guilt-free driving!

We are watching EVs carve out a significant share of the automotive sector. Now the solar industry can help offset the need for more electricity, and EV owners are part of the answer. The Solar+EV Paradigm shift?

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