Utilities Will Be Able to Take a Load off Thanks to Solar EVs
- Dec 17, 2021 11:37 pm GMT
In a recent Energy Central article, I discussed how EVs can reduce power utility load by acting as a battery that collects and stores energy from the owner’s home during off-peak times, and provides that stored energy back to the home for use during peak periods, enabling utilities to offload some demand. The process of EVs sending power to the home is known as vehicle to grid or V2G and, as the name implies, it can also be set up to send power directly to the grid, giving utilities even more support during peak load times.
These developments are highly useful for helping utilities to reduce load. But there is another EV innovation that can help even more. Solar EVs require little to no use of the grid yet can still contribute energy to it.
What Is a Solar EV?
A solar EV is just what it sounds like, a vehicle with PV cells within solar panels installed on it, capable of converting sunlight into electricity that fuels the car’s battery or motor. Solar power may be used to provide all or part of the energy needed to run the vehicle.
What Are the Pros and Cons?
The primary benefit is that solar EVs can be charged in situations in which charging infrastructure is scarce, such as in less developed countries. Even in places where infrastructure is more evolved, solar EVs are the perfect solution for multifamily unit dwellers with no garage or other place to plug their EVs into. Another benefit is that, as mentioned above, a solar EV can provide energy to homes or directly to the grid.
The primary challenge of solar EVs — as with solar systems deployed on structures and on land — is that the technology only works when the sun shines. So, these vehicles are more suited to sunny locations. Another challenge is that, as with traditional EVs, the distance the car can travel on one charge (known as range) is limited. However, the range could be hundreds of miles, making these vehicles practical for everyday use.
What Does the Market Look Like?
Currently, there are no solar EVs on the market, but several auto manufacturers have them in the works:
- Aptera. The company claims the initial model will be able to travel up to 1,000 miles on a single charge.
- Faraday Future. The company is currently taking orders for its forthcoming FF 91.
- Hyundai. The Sonata is considered a hybrid model with solar panels mounted on its rooftop.
- Lightyear. The company claims its Lightyear One will consume two to three times less energy than other electric vehicles.
- Sono Motors. The forthcoming Sion can be charged via sunlight or other methods, including another Sion.
Solar charging stations are also being developed, which can further reduce the overall reliance on utility power. The market for all these innovations is expected to grow considerably in the coming years, alongside the traditional EV market.
What are your thoughts on solar EVs? Please share in the comments.
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