Home Energy and Environment Running on the Sun: Pairing Electric Vehicles with Solar Power

Running on the Sun: Pairing Electric Vehicles with Solar Power

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by Glen Besa

If you haven’t heard about the report issued this week by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, you need to check it out. In a nutshell: climate change is accelerating and our window for action is closing.

What the IPCC report makes clear is that we need to get busy!  Talk to your family, friends and neighbors about climate change and moving to renewable energy.  Most of all, bring the issue up with every public official, every time you see them. We must move climate action up near the top of the public policy agenda at the national, state and local as well as international levels.

There is some good news in the IPCC report.  There are answers out there. Solar, wind, efficiency, electrification of our transportation sector, and a more planet friendly diet are among the solutions.  The only thing lacking is political will.

Let me share with you one solution from my personal experience this past year.  Last September 2017, our new solar panels were switched on providing most of the electricity my wife, Tyla and I use.  Dominion estimates the average residential customer uses 1,000 kilowatt hours per month. With our panels in place we only used about 700 KWh over the entire year.  In fact, since last April through September, we generated as much power as we used, with our Dominion electric bill showing zero usage these past five months.

Additionally, during this time, I’ve been charging my Nissan Leaf, an all electric car that runs on electricity not gas, from an outside wall socket at my home.  That is why I titled this post “Running on the Sun,” because my car has been running on solar power the past five months: no Saudi oil, no fracked oil from North Dakota, no oil from off our gulf coast and no need for fracked gas pipelines to run gas power plants.   Pause and let that sink in: We all can run our cars on the sun (and wind).

I do have a grid-tied system so I use Dominion’s power at night, and over the winter I use a little more power than my 4.2 KW solar system can generate.  But as we push Dominion hard to run its grid on more solar and wind, everyone will be able to run their electric car on the sun or even catch an electric powered bus or train. While Dominion’s electricity is mostly not renewables currently, the grid does get cleaner everyday so electric cars make sense now even if you don’t have solar panels on your house. 

The takeaway message of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change must not be despair. Saving our planet requires a steely determination to compel our politicians, utilities, vehicle manufacturers and others to advance solutions to climate change immediately, without delay. Then we all can run on the sun!