With more and more electric cars and hybrids expected to hit the market over the next few years, and gasoline prices continuing to rise, some are concerned about the impact of plug-in cars on the electrical grid. Could we experience brown-outs or skyrocketing utility bills as a result?
Using solar power for electric vehicles is probably the best bet to minimize the public’s concerns. With solar panels installed on garages, parking lots, and even park and ride facilities, consumers can plug in their car and enjoy inexpensive recharging with solar electricity. When solar power is used for electric vehicles, there is no grid impact. In fact, solar panels will absorb UV light throughout the day to convert into solar electricity. Even if your car is not plugged in, excess power generated by the system can be fed back into the grid, thereby lowering costs across the board for all consumers.
A number of electric cars are already driving on roads and highways, including the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf. More auto manufacturers are planning to release electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles over the next 2-3 years. The worry is that infrastructure, including grid updates are not in place to handle the influx of battery-powered cars.
Yet in markets in California and Washington State, lawmakers and industry leaders are ahead of the curve, encouraging and building solar powered garages and parking lots, as well as rapid charging stations that use solar panels along major thoroughfares.
Using solar power for electric vehicles not only reduces loads on the grid, but also provides for a cleaner drive. Critics of EVs claim that you are just exchanging one dirty fuel (gasoline) for another (coal or gas powered electricity). Yet, cars that run on solar power are about as emissions-free as you can get!