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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

10 Years of EV Driving (Part 5 - Running On Sunshine)

Our slow path to a 100% EV household.

Part 4 concluded in 2007, I'd just became an EV driver. This was such a better driving experience than anything I'd ever driven before. For me, owning an EV turned me into an advocate. I started a blog, I participated in newsgroups and forums, I drove my EV in parades, showed it whenever I had a chance. I became a passionate advocate for the technology.

Anytime you are advocating for something (especially online), you are going to run into haters. One of the retorts to the environmental claims of EVs is that they are grid powered and that means fossil fuel powered in many regions (although declining). Detractors say that EVs are "coal cars" or have a "long tailpipe" all the way back to the smokestack...

There have been studies that show that even when EVs are powered from a fossil fuel powered grid, that they are more efficient and have less CO2 per mile than gas cars when the entire well-to-wheel analysis is done. While it is true that EVs are better than gas cars even when grid-powered, that is a long story to tell. It is much easier to just say when they are solar powered, there is no CO2. Before we had an electric car, I didn't really think about where my electricity came from. The fact that I was plugging in my personal transportation each night and feeling it surge when I pressed on the accelerator, changed things. Somehow EV driving suddenly made the source of my electricity matter more to me than flipping a light switch ever did. So we started shopping for a solar photovoltaic (PV) system to put on our roof.

In late 2007, we had a 4kW PV installed on our roof; twenty panels, 200W each. This was enough to power about 16,000 miles of EV driving each year. I drove less than half that amount. The rest would help power our refrigerator and air conditioner.

Solar panel installation
Now we had solar panels to "fuel" up our EV and we had a lower electricity bill than we did before we bought the EV. We were running on sunshine.