Driving on Sunshine is a reality for more and more folks across the country.
Though EV deployment across the country is still in the early adopter phase, many people in the industry are extremely bullish about the number of EVs we will see on the roads in the coming years. By some estimates, the United States could see as a total market size of 10 million vehicles by 2020. If gas prices continue to rise as they have in the past year, this number could go even higher.
The Solar-Charged Vehicles panel on Tuesday at the World Renewable Energy Forum in Denver, CO featured three experts coming from diverse fields. Sudipta Chakraborty, a scientist from NREL, Christof Demont-Heinrich, a journalist and founder of SolarChargedDriving.com, and Cary Hayes, director of business development at REC Solar provided an overview of the many unique – and exciting – dimensions of the rooftop/home solar PV + electric vehicle synergy.
As EVs roll out across the country, car companies are creating partnerships with solar manufacturers and installers. Ford has teamed up with solar panel manufacturer SunPower Corporation to offer a special package that will include a 2.5kW rooftop solar panel to offset the energy used in charging up a Ford electric car. According to the two companies, the solar charging station will be good for around 1,000 miles per month of driving. This offer gives purchasers of an electric vehicle the chance to “drive green for life” for an additional $10,000. BMW is also preparing for the 2013 launch of their fully-electric vehicle i3 by offering all of their 700 test drivers discounts and financing to install a solar PV system through Real Goods Solar.
Christop Demont-Heinrich sited an already 35% crossover between solar buyers and EV buyers, with this number expect to grow as solar becomes more affordable. Demonts’s site SolarChargedDriving.com has a survey of what is the most enticing reason to solar-charge a car? The responses point to the value of driving on home-produced solar energy for EV owners of the future:
Fueling independence (131) 42.7%
True zero emissions driving (72) 23.5%
It makes economic sense (68) 22.1%
Reduce global warming (30) 9.8%
Other (6) 2%
Results collected on 5/15/2012
Will EV’s help to drive wide-spread adoption of solar technologies or will solar warm-up buyers to consider an EV? With bullish outlooks for both technologies in the coming years and more programs combining the purchase of a new EV with a PV systems set to be released, PV could follow EVs into new areas where current penetration of the technology is low.