Solar Energy and Electric Cars: A Match Made in Clean Energy Heaven

Sun-Powered Living: The Growing Trend of Solar Energy Fueling Electric Cars.

Dec 16, 2023 - 09:53
Dec 16, 2023 - 09:54
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Solar Energy and Electric Cars: A Match Made in Clean Energy Heaven
Solar Energy and Electric Cars: A Match Made in Clean Energy Heaven

When Jim Selgo moved to Goodyear, Arizona, he did something smart for the environment. First, he got solar panels on his roof because he liked the idea of using the sun to make electricity. Then, less than a year later, he bought an electric car (EV), a Nissan Leaf. Now, he doesn't have to pay for electricity or gas anymore.

According to the U.S. Energy Department, there are about 4.5 million homes in the U.S. with solar panels. And in 2023, more than 1 million electric cars were sold in the country.

Selgo, a retired school principal, loves the idea of using the sun to power his car. "You take advantage of what you’re producing at your own house," he says. "Adding an EV just increases your savings and adds to the value of the whole project."

It turns out many people are doing the same thing. They use the sun's energy to power their electric cars, making it a win-win for the environment. And the good news is, it works the other way too. People who have electric cars are now looking at getting solar panels for their homes.

Becca Jones-Albertus from the U.S. Energy Department says, "It’s probably more common today that you have someone who has a solar energy system who is looking at an EV, just because solar has been around longer. But we know that many EV owners are looking to install solar so that it helps with their increased electricity use and can support more economical charging at home."

Why is this a big deal? Well, electric cars need to plug in to charge up, but sometimes the electricity they use comes from burning fossil fuels, which is not good for the environment. That's where solar power comes in. Solar panels on your roof turn the sun’s rays into electricity, and if you add batteries, you can store that energy for later.

In places like California, almost 20% of new homes with solar panels also have batteries. This helps homeowners have a backup source of energy when the sun isn't shining.

Big car companies are also getting in on this trend. General Motors (GM) has a unit called GM Energy that helps customers with things like home charging and solar panels. Derek Sequeira from GM Energy says, "That’s where we see everything working together."

But here's the thing – not everyone can do this. About half of the homes in the U.S. either can't put solar panels on their roofs, or it's not a good idea because of where they live. But there are efforts to change that. Some communities are doing projects where everyone can share a small solar power setup.

The cost of putting solar panels on your roof used to be very high, but it's getting cheaper. In 2010, it could cost almost $9 for every watt of solar power. By 2022, it went down to about $3.16. Plus, the government gives people incentives to use solar power. For example, a new law signed by President Joe Biden allows people to get 30% of their solar panel cost back as a tax credit.

Jerry Schotz from Illinois bought two electric cars in 2021 and got solar panels for his home. He loves the idea of using the sun to power everything in his house, including his cars. "When you think about the climate, we’re no longer using fossil fuels to drive on the road," he says.

So, it seems like using the power of the sun is not just good for your home but also for your car, making it a bright idea for a cleaner and greener future.

Also Read: Google Ventures Gains New Partner from GitLab: Boosting Startups in Open Source and AI

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