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Solar Chargers Reduce EV Reliance on the Grid

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Karen Marcus's picture
Karen Marcus 36271
Freelance Energy and Technology Researcher and Writer Final Draft Communications, LLC

In addition to serving as an Energy Central Community Manager, Karen Marcus has 25 years of experience as a content developer within the energy and technology industries. She has worked with...

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  • Jan 26, 2022
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Electric vehicles (EVs) are growing in popularity, which is positive for reducing carbon emissions that result from burning fossil fuels used to power internal combustion engine (ICE)-based cars. It’s a step in the right direction, but what about the electric power used to charge EVs? Using power from the grid could mean using those fuel sources. For a completely renewable solution, EV drivers should ideally use energy sources like solar. Thanks to emerging solar charging technology, doing so is becoming more possible all the time.  

Solar charging takes different forms:

  • A regular charger might simply deliver only solar power to charge cars.
  • A home might use rooftop solar to charge the household’s EVs.
  • A solar canopy is a structure that covers parts of a parking lot and has solar panels on top to collect sunlight and convert it into energy. Some of these structures include chargers that use that energy to charge EVs.
  • A solar charger can also be in the form of a standalone unit that includes both a solar canopy and charger.
  • Solar charging can take place using streetlamps equipped with chargers and small solar panels that power both EVs and the streetlamp’s lightbulb.

 

All of these solutions are useful in certain situations as discussed in the following sections.

Lack of Garage

Many consumers who may otherwise love the idea of owning an EV might decide not to make the purchase because they don’t have a place, such as a garage, to put a wallbox, which converts grid energy into power for the EV. Many people across the globe live in urban environments where they must park their cars on the street. The fact that more employers, businesses, and municipalities are setting up EV charging stations is helpful, but many people who want to charge at home still need another option. Streetlamp charging is the perfect solution in this scenario.

Remote Locations

Installing an EV charger requires a lengthy process involving permitting, construction, and connection to the grid. But not all places where people want to charge their EVs are practical locations for this type of deployment. That’s why initiatives like Jeep’s trailhead network of solar EV charging units at trailheads are useful. EV drivers can leave their car charging while they hike on the trail.

Mobile Charging

Operators of some events, such as festivals that only last a few days, might want to have temporary EV charging available for EV drivers to that event. Solar charging units are portable and thus capable of serving this purpose.

Backup Energy

Many solar charging units include battery storage that can be used to provide backup energy in case of emergencies. With climate-based natural disasters of all kinds becoming more frequent and severe, this use is important for both citizens and emergency responders. Having strategically placed solar charging units can be not just convenient for EV charging, but potentially lifesaving in certain situations.

Workplaces

One of the best places for EV chargers is company sites where workers’ cars are parked all day. Work hours align with sunlight hours, enabling drivers to take advantage of solar charging provided by employers. The solar solution works well for businesses because it doesn’t require the time and expense of installing grid-connected charging solutions, and it’s mobile, so can be transplanted if the company moves. Additionally, organizations that use this type of solution save money by avoiding utility bills down the road. However, a company with a solar roof already installed can take advantage of solar EV charging as well.

What is your experience with solar EV charging? Please share in the comments.

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