Sunday, January 3, 2010

Solar fuel for electric cars, does it work?

January 3rd, 2010.
8:00 am, our breakfast outside.
If you're an east coast Mini-E driver, try not to look at the picture.

Solar fuel for electric cars, does it work?
As long as the sun rises the answer is you betcha!

This writing departs from my driving experiences with Mini-E #183 and focuses in on my fueling experiences with my electric cars.

In 2009, I drove 12,500 miles in electric cars powered only by sunshine. 9500 miles in Mini-E #183 in just 7 months, and 3000 miles in the Gem E4. My New Years Reso was that I am done with gas period.

It has been a no compromise alternative to the gas cars of my past and has helped motivate me to create a more efficient non polluting source of renewable fuel in the form of a solar P.V. station on our roof for both our cars and our home. It has also been a far more enjoyable driving experience behind the wheel of the electric cars.

Try putting an oil well and refinery on your roof , if you get that far, try making them non polluting.

I believe that the emerging application of the plug in electric car coupled with new legislation in California that makes solar a net positive from day one for most people, as compared to purchasing electricity from utilities, will launch this county, then the state, then the country into a change in motive power and a change in the way we power our homes from consolidated sources of power (power plants, oil refineries) to distributed grid connected "in basin" sources of power (home or business power plants) during the next decade.

A power plant and a gas station in every home and commercial property. Fuel from the sun, captured and conveyed the 30 feet from the roof to your panel to the 220 volt 40 amp outlet, to the electron port (Or do we still call it a gas cap?) on your Leaf, Volt, BMW Active E, Plug in Prius, Ford Focus EV, Karma, Tesla, Think and the many other electric cars.

Solar PV works in California. System payoffs range from 6 to 12 years for house use and 3 to 6 years for auto use ( vs. gas at $3.00 a gal.) using the same money you pay to your utility company or gas station now.

The barriers are that it has high upfront cost and people move every few years thus are not willing to make the long term investment..

San Diego County last month voted to join other counties and cities through the League of California City’s and the League of Counties to enact a PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) program.

Prior to this PACE Program you had to use a second home loan, a line of credit, credit cards or cash to pay for a Solar P.V. system. This relegated solar to the affluent few that can afford to pay for this. Good for the weathy 5% but unattainable for the other 95% of the population

What we needed to do was to make this work for every homeowner or commercial property owner. The major issue is that people tend to move every five years, don’t want to make the big investment as it is not their final home and the upfront cost.

People move every five years on average but buildings don’t. Financing Solar PV on the building rather than the person is the key.

The San Diego County program enables individual property owners both commercial and residential to finance renewable energy projects on their property tax bill over 20 years as opposed to their own personal credit. In most cases the increase in a property tax bill will be offset by an equal or greater savings on their electric bill. This saving grows over the years as the cost remains fixed for the solar PV homeowner but energy cost from the utilities rise every year for the non solar PV home owner.

Other benefits are that the system installs require no out of pocket expenses, and that property taxes are tax deductible, your utility bills and gas station purchase are not.

In my real world experience, owning solar PV systems on my home and driving electric cars over 12000 mile in 2009, solar fuel from a home PV System powering an electric car will range from 25 to 75cents a gallon equivalent to gasoline fixed for the lifetime of your PV System. For me its 40 cents a gallon of solar fuel equivilent.

It begins in California, and will spread to other sunshine states and eventually the entire country. Solar PV is most cost effective in the sunshine belt to be sure, but technology advances.

That’s disruptive and it will change our EVWorld.


Mini-E # 183

Our live solar production graph


  1. I'm soo jealous! What a beautiful view Peder. The weather is a big bonus too. It was 14 degrees when I got up this morning and it only went up to 21 in the afternoon. Now it's back down to 17 degrees and dropping! It's brutal! I'm still waiting to get my car back, it's been in for service for two weeks now. I think it's just too cold here for it since they didn't design any battery warming technology into the car. I'm getting a solar system installed in the coming months. I applied for a 9.9KW system, but was only approved for a 9.0KW system because there are some shade from my chimney and the State requires a minimum of 80% sunlight for the panels to get the rebate. I can't wait to get it installed.

  2. Glad to here it Tom,

    our system is 7.4 kw.

    Looks like the BMY 1 series will have liquid cooled batteries so hopefully that will solve the dead battery below a certain temp problem!

  3. Hi the live solar production graph. Very cool!


  4. concept of using solar energy is pretty objective as well as the water powered cars..
    control valves

  5. You might have answered this elsewhere on your blog, but how does your home solar energy power your car? Is your car parked at home most days? Does the energy go into home batteries during the day and then the car charges from those batteries?

  6. Hi Dan,

    Our home has a 7.5 KW PV system that generates 12,500KWH of electricity anually or 34kw per day

    The car uses around 3500kw to drive 12000 miles. The house uses around 9000kwh each year.

    The energy is created during the day at peak time (much more expensive) and the over generation is sent to the grid. I use the energy at night from the grid (much less expensive)to charge the car and then that energy is stored in the battery.

    Each night I plug in Mini-E and on average I use 8-10 kws a night to recharge the car.