Electric vehicles become much more environmentally friendly when you decouple them from fossil-fuel generated electricity and instead increase the mix of renewable power generation. CNet reported last week that GE, in partnership with Inovateus solar, has deployed a solar carport in Plainville, Connecticut, which will allow EV drivers to truly be able to claim they are driving a zero emissions vehicle - at least when they are plugged in here.
The carport boasts the following features:
What is particularly compelling is the potential to scale this type of set-up all over the country (or world!) as more EVs hit the roads; driving up demand for remote charging opportunities. Imagine the acreage of open tarmac parking lots where such systems could be deployed. Such distributed energy generation does not spoil the landscape - neither does it demand more of it - since it uses space that has already been paved over to park cars. And although most drivers are expected to recharge their vehicles at home overnight, if consumers can access clean power while they are parked during the day, they will demand less energy overnight. This could help mitigate the stress on local power transformers in their own neighborhoods and because these are solar charge points, they will also put less stress on the local transformers in the areas in which they are deployed. This is surely a way to contribute towards the smart-grid.
Detractors may argue that solar is not price competitive with fossil-fuels, but Business Green reports that GE is bullish in their prediction of price parity with fossil fuels, which they say could occur within the next five years. GE predicts solar to fall to $0.15 per kWh or lower, while this year, US residential electricity is expected to average just over $0.11 per kWh with at least a short term outlook of a slight rise through the year. As solar technologies get cheaper, solar/fossil-fuel price parity seems a reasonable prediction, and if realized, will make EVs an increasingly elegant solution to our future personal transportation needs.
Phil Covington holds an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School. In the past, he spent 16 years in the freight transportation and logistics industry. Today, Phil's writing focuses on transportation, forestry, technology and matters of sustainability in business.