Solar and electric vehicles
About solar + electric vehicles: A great combo
Electric vehicles (EVs) are quickly becoming a more affordable and lower maintenance option than traditional gasoline-fueled cars. America’s EV adoption rate is quickly rising as more affordable, long-range models are introduced to the market. For solar owners, the idea of fueling your car with homegrown energy is especially compelling. Market studies show that “roughly one-half of consumers who have solar or EV technology have both”. Similarly, consumers who are interested in one of these technologies are also interested in the other. Utility planners who forecast how much electricity to provide the grid (i.e. load) will need to consider these findings as technology adoption ramps up. Click here to learn more about the nexus of solar ownership and EV interest among our community of solar supporters.
With their large battery packs, electric vehicles can also potentially become another storage device that grid operators, utilities, and homeowners can leverage to build the distributed grid of the future. For instance, solar producers can charge electric vehicles with excess energy from their solar panels instead of sending that electricity back to the grid, or they can charge their cars at night when electricity is less expensive and in less demand. In a worst case scenario from an energy management point of view, car owners could plug in their cars, right when they return home from work—adding to peak demand and increasing the strain on the grid. In other words, solar panels can help us create a distributed network of energy producers, and electric vehicle batteries may help us create a distributed network of storage. But whether this works to strengthen the grid or put more strain on the grid depends on energy policy.
Many states are piloting programs to study EV owner behavior and learn how to optimally manage the new load source. These pilot projects not only educate utilities, governments, and grid operators on EV customer behaviors, but also offer insights into rate design and infrastructure deployment to balance electricity loads and improve grid stability and reliability.
Electric Vehicle Charging Guide
Solar United Neighbors sees electric vehicles as a logical next step for solar owners and we’re fighting for more EVs by supporting state and federal incentives, progressive pilot projects, and fair charging rates.
- We are developing work and partnerships to help our members get electric vehicles and fight for good policy in many states. In Ohio, our Appalachian Solar Co-op included EV chargers for every house that went solar at no additional charge.
- In Virginia, our Arlington + EV Charging Co-op is bringing together homeowners and small businesses and giving participants the option of installing solar , a level 2 electric vehicle charger, or both.
- State EV fees – States across the country are introducing bills that would impose unfair and punitive annual fees on electric vehicles. If passed, such legislation would make the operating costs of EVs much greater and would put an additional barrier in the way of deploying a technology that pairs wonderfully with solar.
- In D.C. and Maryland we are involved in cases at the Public Service Commission to establish time-of-use tariffs for electric vehicle owners. We are working to make sure these policies are fair to solar producers and electric vehicles owners. All together, these efforts must add up to a more democratic, affordable and resilient grid.
Solar + EV resources
- Auto Alliance Advanced Technology Vehicle Sales Dashboard – A regularly updated resource that provides overall national and state level EV sales, market penetration, and other information.
- Green Car Reports – Drives and reviews all green cars.
- The Electric Vehicle Transportation Center (EVTC) – Designed to help create the nation’s electric vehicle transportation network.
- Plug-in America – An advocacy group that supports the expansion of plug-in vehicles.
- Sierra Club Go Electric – A national campaign to make your next car electric.
- Department of Energy Alternative Fuels Data Center – Offers primary research on electric vehicles.
- Plugless – Gives you state by state tax credit and incentive programs for electric vehicles.
- Electric Auto Association – A national organization with state chapters that has been promoting electric vehicles since 1967.
- Charge Point – The largest network of EV charging stations. They help you find a charging station near you.
- Multi-Sate ZEV Action Plan – This report from the ZEV Task Force examines what steps policymakers, automobile manufacturers, utilities and others should take to increase adoption of zero-emission vehicles.
- AchiEVe: Model State & Local Policies to Accelerate Electric Vehicle Adoption – This is a resource guide developed by the Sierra Club and Plug In America that identifies model policies that have helped increase access to electric vehicles.