Have you noticed a lot more electric vehicles driving around lately? Adoption of Electric Vehicles (EV’s) has been growing dramatically over the last several years.
California has the greatest number of EV’s (Approx. 300k) on the road as incentives to drive them and the infrastructure to support them have been critical ingredients to success. EV adopters range in age, political beliefs, environmental passion and even income. The appeal of EV’s is growing but some of the hurdles to mass adoption still need to be addressed to see an EV revolution. Alternative energy, namely solar power, will play a role in overcoming some of the hurdles of EV development as well as enhance the positive environmental and economic benefits.
Many factors are driving the early EV adopter. Environmental benefits are probably the most obvious passions behind the EV driver. Yet, electric vehicles are no longer a niche that is beyond the affordability of the average consumer. Saving money on gasoline and energy in general is a huge driving factor in EV adoption. Between incentives from state and regulatory bodies and special rate schedule programs from utility providers, the economic incentive for EV drivers to switch to electric is substantial. Still, there are hurdles that prevent many potential EV adopters from pulling the plug on their petrol vehicle.
Charging an electric vehicle is a necessary step in driving the EV. This is one of the biggest hurdles to adoption as many potential drivers are not home owners and cannot afford or have the permission to install charging units on rental property. Sometimes property owners are restricted due to parking locations. The lack of infrastructure at home is a big problem but so is the lack of charging units around town and on highways; however, over 100 new DC Fast Chargers or Level 3 Chargers are appearing on CA highways in late 2017 and early 2018.. Finding a place to charge an EV whether at home, at work or on the road is the biggest hurdle to EV adoption for those who would otherwise charge ahead with the decision. More workplaces and employers are installer EV Charging Stations to attract and keep the best employees.
This is where solar power can come in to bridge the gap between potential EV drivers and the hurdles that stand in the way of adoption. Solar power and energy storage are already being used to compliment electric vehicles. This is evident in the home owner’s who have deployed solar power to charge their vehicles. One can also find solar power employed by solar charging stations built by Tesla Energy. The infrastructure issue, namely the lack of charging stations to power electric vehicles, would be better dealt with when solar power is the source of the energy. Solar power and energy storage would allow charging stations to exist anywhere: on highways and in areas where connecting to the utility grid is cost prohibitive. Currently, charging stations are tied to the grid where there are limitations. Also coming within the next 6 months are Vehicle 2 Grid or V2G technology, where the battery power from vehicles, including school buses being deployed in the LA Unified School District will be able to power buildings when the buses are done and parked, the buses in essence become a battery backup system daily and can be crucial in power outage emergencies.
Besides the void that grid tied electric charging stations are not able to meet in the areas where there is no grid power, the cost of grid electricity and installation of charging stations is prohibitive. Often, cars charge during the day while people are at work. This is during times where utilities charge more for ‘peak hours’. Solar charging stations combined with energy storage will overcome these high peak hour costs. In fact, solar power may put these rates to use in a way that turns the financial tables. Employing solar power into the electric vehicle development will decrease the cost of energy to charge the vehicles, reduce overall pollution even further as well as improve the infrastructure and overall EV deployment economics. Solar powered charging stations are a win for the electric vehicle industry.
We hear it everyday. “I would love to have solar for my home (or business) but my roof is too shaded.” In most cases we can work with the customer by coming up with some creative solar solutions, including the following:
Solar Carports – Solar Carports come in a variety of configurations. For home use, they could be used to cover a single vehicle or in a commercial situation, they could be use to cover entire parking lots, all the way up to 100’.
Durable solar carports with an integrated aluminum racking system are made to last…with low or no maintenance for 25 years or longer.
Solar Ground Mounted Structures – These solar structures are great if a site owner has adjacent land can be used to capture energy from the sun. We can manage and install Commercial, Institutional and Utility Scale ground mount projects across California. We provide engineered stamped structural design drawings and construction services, from start to finish.
Solar Pavillions and Patios – Like their Solar Carport cousins, these solar structures cover areas which can be used for common use, visitors, employees, outdoor or event locations. Each is designed to suit the unique site needs.
Many times deciding to go solar is easy. Some questions are: How much the project will cost, when is the payback, how much energy will be produced, how will solar affect my utility bill, how will it get financed and will the solar company stand by their solar equipment and work? We will be happy answer any of these questions to guide you the process. We’ve been helping home owners and businesses since 2009.
Energy Independence Group
Kern County is known for a handful of billion dollar industries. From the oil and gas industry to the agricultural industry, Kern County is a big player. Wind power is even a billion dollar industry, quite visible from the drive through Tehachapi where thousands of turbines turn. Today we are seeing the landscape change further as Kern County leads in solar development. There are significant factors driving the solar revolution in Kern County.
Location is the primary force behind the solar boom in our region. High energy costs are a direct result of being centered in one of America’s most expensive states for energy: California. The desert climate of Kern County makes energy use inevitably high during summer months. Unlike the coastal regions of California, desert climates see significant annual cost increases due to utility rate structures. The lack of a competitive market for utilities makes for very little choice for residents and businesses to avoid high cost energy. Certainly, many residents live in either the discomfort of a hot house or with a substantially high electric bill. It’s an uncomfortable choice.
This is where solar power comes in. Location may hinder the residents and business owners but it also provides an opportunity not available in coastal climates or other parts of the country. We have the land, space and rooftops to make up for it with solar power. This is evident in the fields of solar panels accompanying farm land, covering parking lots and gracing roof tops. California’s regulations may lead to high energy costs but they also allow for net metering, essentially using the utility as a battery. The desert location may create high bills but it also provides for
great solar power production with the strong intensity of the sun and longer, clearer days.
Residents and business owners have become accustomed to ever-increasing utility costs with continuous restructuring of the rates and tiers. More recent developments in utility tier structures have created a Conservation Adjustment Incentive. While it operates as an incentive to encourage lower energy use by discounting the lowest tiers for those who can stay in them, it creates a penalty or disincentive for using energy necessary to operate or live in a desert climate. It is nearly impossible for residents in this desert climate to stay in the lower tiers, which effectively penalizes residents for living in the desert. Residents are starting to get notices from the utility companies labeling them as excessive users of energy. While solar is booming now, there will be even more significant financial reason to switch form utility power to solar power in the coming years.
Going solar has never been easier with an abundance of funding options; however, that landscape is changing fast and record low prices on solar equipment and installation. Companies like Energy Independence Group specialize in customizing projects to make any type of installation possible but to also make the investment in solar power itself easy and affordable. Often, clients are able to either own or lease a solar system with zero down and see immediate savings.
With federal tax incentives, businesses and home owner’s see an even faster payback and even greater savings. There are few opportunities to turn a bill into an asset. Solar is one of the best things to happen to Kern County. We may suffer from hot days, bad air and bad deals, but the ingenuity of our area is changing that landscape by making life more comfortable and affordable with solar energy.
About the Author: Les Mood is a finance and business graduate of Cal State, Bakersfield and co-founder of Energy Independence Group located in Bakersfield, CA. Visit www.eig.solar/about for more information.