Solar Panels and Electric Vehicles

Solar Panels and Electric Vehicles

The synergy between solar panels and electric vehicles promises to transform our mobility, our electricity grid, and our carbon-based economy.

Last month, both Newport Solar and Tesla were at the Drive Clean Rhode Island – Ride and Drive at Fort Adams in Newport, Rhode Island.  At our Newport Solar display, we included educational materials as well as a small cell phone charging station that was powered by a small battery bank.  This battery bank was charged by a small solar panel and charge controller.  Tesla (as well as other electric vehicle companies, like SpeedCraft VW) was at the event to allow attendees of the World Match Racing Tour to test drive their vehicles.

As we were sitting at the event, we realized it was the perfect opportunity to illustrate the synergy between solar panels and electric vehicles; we decided to charge the Tesla with our small cell phone charging station!  Though the output of the battery based inverter was very low, and the ensuing photos were slightly comical, the exercise demonstrated an important concept:

Solar panels produce energy intermittently; battery technology can store this energy for use when the sun is shining.  With this added storage capability, solar panels can provide the charging capability for electric vehicles at home, independent of the time of day.  This allows people to not only produce their own energy for powering their vehicle, but to charge their vehicles from solar generated power even when the sun is not shining.  Electric vehicles of the future will be able to act as an on-grid battery that can charge or discharge when appropriate to level out grid load curves and provide the most value to their owners.  These advancements in solar panels and electric vehicles and the paradigm shifts they are producing are driving our country towards a future where the combustion of carbon-based fuels will be unnecessary.

Newport Solar, in an effort to expand our offerings and provide the best service to our clients, is working with battery companies to allow for the integration of backup systems into our solar installations.