There are several different options and ways in which an electric vehicle can be charged in the future.
One potential is to use a home solar battery.
Another option is to install EV charging stations powered by sustainable energy sources like solar or wind at work and in public areas.
Another choice is for automakers to include a more minor, "swap-and-go" battery component in the primary battery that can be swapped out when it has to be.
Each option has advantages and disadvantages, and it is not yet obvious which will take over as the primary charging method in the future.
What are the different ways electric cars could be charged in the future?
The issue of charging electric cars effectively when they become the mass transport method in the future is occupying many smart brains. How could it work? We can think of 4 ways.
1. We charge the car overnight via a battery at home, and the battery is charged via a solar system during the day, so we genuinely drive with renewable power
The advantage is that our car will efficiently charge using renewable energy most of the time. The negative – some homes will not have a big enough roof to support their home consumption and the need for an electric car. Also, a solar system, battery, and charger can easily set the owner back 25,000 to $50,000 depending on the size of the solar system and the battery.
2. Workplaces, shopping centres, and parking stations will power electric car charging stations through remote solar or wind farms.
The positive is that we use renewable power again, but one will not know how expensive these charging stations will be in the future and if one has to wait in line when the centre is bustling.
3. Car makers add smaller batteries
Swap-and-go type battery component to their large electric car battery, so we can pull in and swap the battery over when our battery gets low – to go, let’s say, another 100 km on the new smaller battery. This would mean car makers will have to standardise this minor battery component. Also, the swap and charge station must access renewable power to make this system work well.
This could happen partly via a car body encased in solar cells, so the cells can charge the car if driving or parked outside. Hyundai has already developed a solar roof for their Sonata car – so we know the technology works.
What are the downsides to this?
The downside is that such a charge will possibly, even with very efficient solar cells all over the vehicle, only add about 10 km of driving per day. So while it can support the overall charging effort, it will not cover the likely driving needs of most electric car owners, being at least 30km per day.
Researchers are now actively working on embedding induction charging into roadways for electric cars in the future, akin to how phone batteries can now charge by placing them on an induction charge pad. Consequently, vehicles would charge their batteries while driving over the road.
While, again, a great concept, the cost of upgrading our road network to embed this possibility into all roads would be prohibitively expensive. Also, the CO2 required to build this infrastructure would be massive, which might defeat the purpose of the electric car. Another question worth exploring is how our human body will react to exposure to all these electronics and the associated magnetic fields and waves.
So many questions and so many possible answers. Only the future will tell.