The Perfect Match: Solar and Electric Vehicles

Plug it in, plug it in: electric vehicles and solar energy are the perfect combination for financial savings and reduced carbon emissions.

As electric vehicles become more mainstream, consumers are making the connection between electric vehicles and solar energy. It’s an easy marriage: both technologies save you money on energy costs while also reducing your reliance on dirty energy.

In the last couple months, we have kept our eye out for news on the combination of these two technologies. To date, the idea of using an electric vehicle as solar battery backup and Ford’s solar concept car have proved to be the most interesting.

Electric Vehicles Moonlighting as Battery Storage

A year ago the University of Delaware introduced a fleet of retrofitted Mini Coopers that act as a mini power plant. The electric cars can be plugged in to get charged, but they also have the ability to send electricity back to the grid.

Many solar experts see the university’s experiment as a solution to the battery backup woes of solar owners across the nation. Ideally, an EV owner could charge their car with solar energy during the day and then use any excess energy to power their home at nighttime.

Getting approval is undoubtedly the largest obstacle in spreading this innovative idea across the nation. In order to receive authorization, the vehicle-to-grid project relied on the help and support of many different companies and organizations. It may not be as easy to get approval from utility companies and local cities based in Southern California.

Ford’s New Solar Powered Vehicle

Ford’s concept car runs on solar energy provided by the panels on top. Photo via Ford Motor Company

Though we are partial to our Chevy Volt, we’ve had our eye on the Ford C-Max Solar Energi Concept Car that is powered by solar panels. Engineers adapted the highly-efficient SunPower solar panels that are typically installed on homes and businesses to make special, thin-film panels for the car.

On its own, the solar panels need a week’s worth of sun in order to charge it completely. However, Ford has partnered with the Georgia Institute of Technology to help solve this problem with a special parking canopy. Essentially, the canopy magnifies the sun’s rays so that the charge time is condensed into a 6-7 hour time period.

The solar vehicle is still in development, and much work still needs to be done to make the car more affordable and efficient. With consumer demand and a push for car companies to become more sustainable, we’re hopeful that the concept car will become a reality sooner than later.

Online news articles sourced for this blog post: CES 2014: Ford to debut C-Max solar concept carLet the Sun In: Ford C-Max Solar Energi Concept Goes Off the GridElectric cars may hold solution for power storage, and Technology milestone reach on UDaily