The following is an excerpt from the soon to be released second edition of “How to Future Proof Your Home: A Guide to Building with Energy Intelligence – Second Edition” available exclusively through FutureProofMyBuilding.com.
A Solar powered Car can reduce or eliminate your gasoline bill
Have you heard of electric vehicles (EVs) such as the Tesla Model S, Ford Focus electric, Mitsubishi i-MiEV or Nissan Leaf? If you haven’t, EVs are vehicles that are 100% powered using electricity stored in batteries to power electric motors to move the vehicle and provide all other function within the vehicle. Or perhaps you have heard of the plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) such as the Chevy Volt, Ford Fusion Energi, Toyota Prius Plugin or Via Motors trucks and SUV’s? PHEVs have sizable battery storage that power as much of the vehicle as possible. The key difference from EVs is that PHEVs have a small gas or diesel powered generator built into the vehicle to provide additional charge (and heat) when the batteries are running low or to provide extra range. Both types of vehicles need to have their batteries recharged. This can be accomplished at a charging station or at home by plugging them into an electrical power supply.
Here is where it gets interesting. If your home has a solar array (or another type of electrical generation system) and is grid connected, the batteries that run your vehicle can be charged using the sunshine that falls on your solar array or through power provided by your utility company. This essentially provides you with free gasoline by allowing you to drive without gasoline or diesel. By interconnecting your home and your electrically powered vehicle, you can greatly reduce your need for fossil fuel.
While it is not common practice yet, the home can even be powered by the vehicle when insufficient power is being collected by the solar array or provided by the grid. This is being proven in Japan where there are test projects that integrate an EV or PHEV into the home as a means of reducing strain on the grid. The vehicle – particularly a PHEV – can also be used as a standby generator using smart grid technology. As smart grids and electric vehicles gain market share, self-sufficient homes and buildings will be part of the interconnected grid.
How is this possible? As discussed earlier, technology is advancing in multiple areas more rapidly than ever before. As each technological advancement builds on other advancements, a cascading effect occurs that will affect all areas of life. With the idea of living off-grid gaining popularity in recent years, it is no doubt that if a free market truly exists, it will seek to realize these ambitions by providing the means of electrical self-sufficiency. Since utilities have large capital investments and hence much control over regulation, it is more likely that a net-zero interconnected grid will take shape in coming years. While customers may still be connected to the grid, they will be less reliant on it while having a sense of energy security should the worst happen to the system. It is very important to understand that your choices regarding the efficiency of your home, it’s usage of a renewable energy system and your choice of vehicle will play large roles in advancing the self-sufficiency model and moving our society away from the current paradigm of fossil fuel based dependence. It is for these reasons that new homes and buildings should be EV ready by providing the appropriate wiring or conduit for easy install of 220V – 240V quick charging stations.
Sustainable choices are getting easier and cheaper while investments in residential energy innovations are projected to grow from $54.7 billion in 2013 to $71.6 billion in 2023[i]. Part of this growth is fueled by advances in battery technology used in EVs, PHEVs and soon in your home. Elon Musk the founder of Tesla Motor Company and co-founder of Solar City has announced that they will build a giga-factory for battery storage[ii] that will essentially double the worlds current battery production by 2020. These batteries will be used both for powering electric vehicles but also for storing electricity created from renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. This is great news for people who would like to see the end of fossil fuel powered production because it means that stabilizing the grid will become possible without significant investment in dedicated energy storage. Essentially electric vehicles and PHEVs can and will act as a means of distributed energy storage, stabilizing the grid when wind turbines stop turning or when the sun stops shining.
With technology advancing exponentially faster, it won’t be long until we see EVs and PHEVs as a standard on our roads. This will be accelerated as people’s awareness of climate change increases and as the price of gasoline rises due to its limited supply. Fortunately there is an ever renewable energy source that can provide you with a gasoline substitute on a daily basis.
By having a solar system on your home or work place, you can essentially fill up EVs and PHEVs for free after your initial investment in the system. This is a safe investment and a very green option for the readers who would prefer to pay themselves to drive around rather than pay an oil company. As the costs associated with these technologies advance they will become more of a standard. In the meantime, powering ones vehicle using the sunshine is for leaders who wish to invest their money in a sustainable lifestyle that pays for itself.
Given the instability of the financial system due to its cyclical nature, one may argue that investments in the measures discussed in this ebook are a much safer investment than trusting the market to provide you with a steady rate of return for your money invested. I would argue that they are a more ethical investment and one that you would be glad you make in both good times and bad.
[i] This report from Navigant Research gives the numbers listed but is more inclusive of other technologies that are still being developed or are not widely used. http://www.navigantresearch.com/research/residential-energy-innovations
[ii] Read about the future of energy storage in your home and vehicle here: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/elon-musk-a-thermostat-sized-box-may-one-day-power-your-house-2014-09-17