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April 14, 2023

EVs and Solar Energy: How to Power Your Electric Vehicle with Renewable Energy

EVs and Solar Energy: How to Power Your Electric Vehicle with Renewable Energy

Introduction

Electric vehicles (EVs) are becoming increasingly popular as a way to reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality. However, the production of electricity for EVs is still largely dependent on fossil fuels, which undermines the environmental benefits of EVs. One solution to this problem is to charge EVs with renewable energy sources, such as solar or wind power. This article will explore different ways to power EVs with renewable energy and the benefits of doing so. With a share of almost 20 percent, the global transport sector is the third-largest contributor to CO2 emissions after electricity generation and industry. Despite vast improvements in the energy efficiency of vehicles, greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions in the sector have more than doubled since 1970. In Germany, for example, there were 71 percent more trucks and 31 percent more cars on the road in 2019 than 30 years earlier. It is important to note that in order to achieve the reduction targets, electromobility fueled by green energy is one of the key ways to reach these goals.

Plugging Straight into Renewables

It is possible to charge EVs directly from solar panels or wind turbines. In fact, there are already examples of public charging stations in Germany that use this method. For example, the German company ebee Smart Technologies has installed a solar-powered EV charging station in Frankfurt that can charge up to two vehicles at a time. This is a great example of how Germany is leading the way in developing infrastructure to support EV charging.

Utilizing domestic solar panels to charge EVs is also a great option, as it allows you to utilize excess solar energy and reduce carbon emissions. This can be especially beneficial for EV owners who live in sunny regions. Furthermore, with the increasing number of EVs on the road, workplace charging will become more common in the future. Imagine, you have a long day at work and come back to a fully charged EV, this is the kind of convenience we are talking about here.

Getting a Feed-in-Tariffs (FiT)

A feed-in-tariff (FiT) is a policy that provides financial incentives for renewable energy producers. In Germany, the EEG 2023, a new version of the country's renewable energy law, will introduce two separate feed-in tariffs. Owners of rooftop PV systems can now decide to accept a smaller feed-in-tariff and use some of their rooftop power themselves, or receive an additional remuneration on top of the standard feed-in tariff. This is a great way for homeowners to not only support renewable energy but also save on electricity costs.

Switching to a FiT can support renewable energy projects and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. However, it is also important to consider energy efficiency and smart energy use, even with a green tariff. For example, if you are charging your EV overnight, it might be more beneficial to use a smart charging system that adjusts the charging speed based on the energy forecast.

Timing Charging with Energy Forecast

The "greenness" of the electricity grid fluctuates throughout the day. For example, during periods of high solar or wind energy usage, the grid will be more "green" and produce less carbon emissions. By charging your EV during specific periods, you can not only reduce your carbon footprint but also save money on time-of-use tariffs, i.e at night.

In the future, smart meters and smart home energy systems will become more common, which will make it easier to time charging with energy forecast. Additionally, the concept of vehicle-to-grid charging is becoming more popular and is expected to arrive to Germany in the following years. This means that, soon, EV owners will be able to give battery charge back to the grid during high-carbon periods and earn money in return. This is a great example of how EVs can not only reduce emissions but also contribute to the energy grid. A win-win situation for both EV owners and the environment!

Electric Vehicles’ Penetration in Germany

Germany has a strong tradition of both an automotive culture and an ecological mindset. Unsurprisingly, the country is forecasted to have relatively high penetration of EVs. As previously stated, the country also aims to reduce CO2 emissions (which make up a vast majority of GHG emissions) by 55 percent by 2030. Compared with 1990, GHG emissions for 2020 are estimated to be around 41 percent less, exceeding the set target value of 40 percent. However, COVID-19 restrictions have temporarily slowed down the growth of EV adoption.

Estimates indicate that eight million electric vehicles could be on the roads in Germany by 2030. Investing in fast-charging stations and managed charging will be key to upgrading infrastructure. To meet this forecast, the country needs to install enough charging points to serve the entire fleet of EVs. This would require around 400,000 charging points, with a total capacity of 20 GW. It is important to note that the German government has set a target of having one million public charging points by 2030. With the growing number of EVs on the roads of Germany, we can see many new programs that aims to power them through greener sources… Profiting to you as you’ll be able to plug into renewable more and more often.

sunset on electric lines in the countryside

Managed Charging Programs

Managed charging programs can be an effective way to smooth out loads on the grid. This can be done by adjusting the charging speed based on the energy forecast. For example, if the forecast indicates that there will be a lot of wind power available, the charging speed can be increased. On the other hand, if the forecast indicates that there will be less wind power available, the charging speed can be decreased. This helps to prevent overloading the grid and also reduces the need for expensive grid upgrades.

In addition to managed charging programs, accurate planning is also crucial. This includes understanding how increased electromobility will affect average and peak loads in the coming years. Grid operators will need to upgrade infrastructure, including distribution lines, residential substations and transformers, and switchgear. Managed charging programs and accurate planning, for example, can smooth loads over time, saving billions in investment needs for infrastructure extensions.

Conclusion

In conclusion, charging EVs with renewable energy sources is an important step towards achieving energy independence and reducing carbon emissions. Methods such as plugging straight into renewables, getting a feed-in-tariff, and timing charging with energy forecast can all help EV owners power their vehicles with clean energy. Additionally, using solar panels to charge EVs has numerous benefits, including cost savings and reduced emissions. We encourage EV owners to consider implementing one or more of these methods to power their vehicles with clean, renewable energy. It is also important for grid operators, policy makers, and regulators to work together to ensure that the necessary infrastructure is in place to support the growth of EVs in Germany and other countries. Managed charging programs and accurate planning can help to smooth loads on the grid and reduce the need for expensive grid upgrades. By working together, we can ensure a sustainable and clean future for transportation.

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