Electric vehicles (EVs) can offer energy independence and help to reduce one's reliance on the grid.
Energy independence is achieved through sustainable forms of energy and can reduce carbon footprint while reducing energy expenses. In Australia, EVs can be charged by any resource that produces electricity, although the energy source is largely dependent on the grid, which is still largely powered by fossil fuels.
Pairing an EV with solar panels for charging can provide emission-free transportation and reduce energy dependence.
To get started, it's important to research rebates and incentives and collaborate with an installer to determine the appropriate size of the solar system and potentially a battery. An EV by itself may not improve energy independence, but when paired with a solar & battery system, it will improve independence and add significant savings in petrol costs.
Do EVs increase my energy independence?
If you disregard the benefits electric vehicles (EVs) offer, you also disregard the potential for energy independence. EVs give owners various opportunities to work towards the benefits of energy independence.
What is energy independence?
Energy independence is a form of self-sufficiency that decreases your reliance on the grid and fossil fuels. It can be achieved through sustainable forms of energy. By increasing your energy independence, you reduce your carbon footprint while simultaneously reducing your energy expenses. But what does this have to do with EVs?
One of the main benefits of EVs is that they can be powered by any resource as long as they can produce electricity. Since many Australians consider energy independence a priority for environmental and financial reasons, it makes sense to question whether an electric car can improve their energy situation.
When you buy an electric vehicle, the fuel is provided from the grid instead of a pump. However, in Australia, a large part of our electricity is still produced through fossil fuels. Therefore, it does not make much of a difference from an environmentally friendly standpoint if you drive an EV right now No need to get smug when you have an EV, as you most likely still contribute to carbon pollution. The answer to the question regarding true energy independence is it depends on what the source of the electricity is.
What is the point of energy independence?
What comes with this reduced dependence is a reduction in energy costs. You can save up to $3000 yearly on petrol bills if you get an EV and a solar system to charge the vehicle. And then there are savings on your electricity bills on top.
Pairing your EV with solar panels
The best way to use your EV to improve energy independence is to pair them with solar panels. Pairing solar panels and a home storage battery with EVs is a match made in heaven.
If you decide to install a solar & battery system or already have one and purchase an EV, you will be able to charge your car with energy produced from your system. This then allows you to have emission-free transportation. EVs represent a big battery on wheels, solving the issue of where to store excess solar energy. You can channel this energy into the home battery during the day and subsequently charge up the EV at night using the stored energy.
In return, your EV in the future can also act as a backup power source. In the near future many EVs have vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology. (The Nissan Leaf for example offers this already today) This feature allows the vehicle to feed electricity into the grid during high demand. While blackouts are rare, after some technical issues in the bureaucratic world of energy connection rules are solved going forward your EV can give your home power if a power outage occurs.
Often you will not have your EV at home during the day
In saying this, it is rare for Australians to charge their EVs during the day at home. As solar systems produce the most electricity during the day, you may not be able to get a full charge or still have some additional electricity to export. Nevertheless, without a battery, you will still get some solar charge on weekends or when you work from home, decreasing your dependence on the grid. But to get the ideal solution it is important to install a solar & battery combo and then this issue is resolved.
The sizing of your solar and battery is important to give you the best result. So, there are many considerations you must go over when estimating how much additional electricity your EV will need and how much savings you will be able to make when pairing an EV, a home solar system and a storage battery. The main considerations are the range of the EV, the distance you intend to travel by car, your home energy consumption, the size of your roof and your overall budget.
How to find this information
So how do you find this information? Start by finding the EPA rating of your EV’s fuel economy. Also if you have driven the EV for a while you will know how many kWh your vehicle consumes to drive 100km. This consumption number will allow you or a quality solar installer to estimate the amount of solar electricity you need to fill the home battery, charge the vehicle(s) and supply your home with renewable energy.
After finding this, you must estimate how much travelling you intend to do with the EV. When doing this, a 20% or so overestimation is always better. You would prefer having some spare charge rather than running out.
How to start
The first thing to do to improve your energy independence, whether you have an existing solar system or not, is to find out what rebates and incentives are available for EVs and solar for your location. Our preferred partner has this information at their fingertips. If you are eligible for these offers, the initial purchase price will become considerably more affordable.
After this research has been undertaken, collaborate with your installer to find what is best for you. Make sure you size your solar system appropriately and tell your installer the EPA rating/consumption estimate of your EV and how far you will travel with the vehicle e per week. This will give them an idea of what size solar and battery system you will need. After this plan has been set, you will be good to go.
The answer is yes; electric vehicles will improve your energy independence. However, the improvement will be further increased when paired with a solar &battery combo system. If your only intention for buying an EV is to improve your independence, you are much better off saving and waiting for the time you can affordably get an EV and solar/battery system together. If you already have a solar system, purchasing an EV will only add to the savings you are already making. In that case, save up to add the battery down the track.