April 15, 2017

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for electric cars, renewable energy and better solutions for humanity. The reality of an electric car is, if you charge it from mains power you are not making any difference to the environmental impact on the earth. I like to call this shifting the load. At the moment, we burn fuel to drive our cars- we see the pollution we are creating out of our exhaust pipes and we don’t like that. Now, what I mean by shifting the load is, if you charge your electric car from the grid, you are still creating just as much pollution as burning fuel- the pollution is just shifted to where the power station is creating the electricity for your car. Until we get 100% renewable energy from our grids, or you can charge your car at home with solar, you are doing very little for the benefit of the environment. You are better off using public transport and riding a push bike.

Charging your electric car from home is quite a challenge. I know it’s a challenge as I am planning to do it- it’s a huge exercise with a very large financial cost. Now, for our family, we spent $20,000 to buy our energy system which has a lifespan of 25 years guaranteed and will supply enough energy to run our home for 3-5 days without any production. It can rain for almost 5 days and we will be ok.

Now if we wanted to charge our electric car from home, we would require a system almost twice the size of what we have now. Depending on your driving styles and on how you charge, is going to be the key to making it work for you and your family.

If you charge the car at night, and it requires a full charge, you are going to want 15kWhs of energy for a car that has a range of about 50klms on electric. If you plan to charge this from your batteries, you will want a very large battery bank if you intend to run your car and home on batteries. The easy way to charge your car from your home solar system is do it during the day, and that is the hard part for most people as they are normally at work all day! To charge your electric car this way, you will require more solar panels. Solar panels are cheaper than batteries. To create 15kWhs of energy, you will require what most solar guys would call a 3kwh system.

For my situation we have a 1.6Kw system for the house and a 3.2kw system for the car, all up we will have a system that can produce 4.8kw. This will work for me, as the car can sit on charge in the peak hours when the sun is shining, and it doesn’t take the power from our batteries. We also have a very low energy usage at home of only 5kWh per day.

If you want to charge your car during the night and run your home, you will require about the same in panels, and also my battery bank has a storage capacity of 12kWh usable energy. To get another 15kWh of storage capacity, I would be required to add at least 2 more battery banks which financially would be about $20,000 for any type of battery, whether it be lead acid, lithium or Nife Cells. In reality, you would require to invest about $30,000 into extras for your current system to run your car purely on renewable energy to actually make a difference to the world!

If we all reduced our loads on how often we drive our cars, and used public transport more or rode a bike, until our grids are 100% renewable energy when purchasing an electric car you are just shifting where you leave your pollution. It's a bit like what has happened with Australia and its manufacturing, we have moved everything off shore so it reduces the carbon footprint on energy used in Australia which has just shifted it to China. All the stuff we want made is then transported back here! Strange world we live in.

Point being is, unless you can power your electric car from 100% renewables, you are not making much difference to the fuels we all burn from the planet. For us all to go electric, we are required to work as a team with the grid, our neighbors, and our fellow humans to really make this happen.