Guest blogger Dan Hofmann: 'What if our electric cars were powered by solar energy?'
By Dan Hofmann, RegenEn Solar
Solar photovoltaics, or PV, combined with electric vehicles, or EV, is a match made in heaven.
Not only are you using a clean energy source and strengthening national security by helping America become energy independent, it is also cheaper than driving a gasoline powered internal combustion engine car.
As shown in the chart to the right, the cost to drive one mile in a gas powered car that gets an average 23.8 miles per gallon is 16 cents (at the current national average price of gasoline of $3.85 per gallon). Even if you buy a new conventional car that gets an average 33.8 MPG, you’ll still be paying about 11 cents per mile.
The pure electric Nissan Leaf costs just 3.5 cents per mile based on the national average of 11 cents per kilowatt hours of electricity. If you adjust that number to 8 cents per kilowatt-hour that LG&E customers currently pay for electricity, the cost to drive an EV in Louisville is about 2.6 cents per mile.
As you can see, it’s much cheaper to drive an EV than gas-powered car. And, even if you are charging your EV in regions that are heavily dependent upon coal to generate electricity, battery vehicles still produce less pollution than gasoline powered cars.
What happens to the economics when you add PV to the mix?
As I stated in a previous article, we’ve reached grid-parity and solar electricity is now as cheap as electricity from your utility. So, you are still looking at about 2.6 cents per mile to drive an EV charged by PV.
The average driver in the United States drives 13,476 miles per year. It would cost about $8,000 after tax credits and require about 200 square feet of roof space on your home to have a solar PV system installed that would produce the electric kilowatt-hours needed to drive 13,476 miles per year in an EV.
At 13,476 miles driven per year, a new gas-powered car that costs 11 cents per mile to drive would total $1,482 per year to operate.
So, by using solar PV to charge an EV and save $1,482 per year, you would break even on your solar investment in a little over five years. And, that would result in a total savings of $37,050 over the 25-years the solar panels are under warranty (or a net savings of $29,050 after the initial $8,000 investment in the solar PV system).
That is a conservative estimate assuming gas prices won’t increase over the next 25 years.
On a national scale, we drive our cars and trucks a total of about 3 trillion miles per year.
If you had a magic wand and suddenly converted every automobile in America to electric charged by solar PV, we would save about $330 billon per year and about $8 trillion over 25 years.
About the author: Dan Hofmann is President of RegenEn Solar LLC (www.regenensolar.com), a solar panel installation company located in Louisville, KY.