Solar Energy: Essential for Zero-Emission Transportation

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~ Guest post by Beth Buczynski

Hybrids, electric vehicles, and smart cars, oh my!

Although the technology to manufacture cleaner, more fuel efficient vehicles has been around for decades, the auto industry is just now getting around to developing these alternative transportation options on a commercial scale.

As with any new technology, buzzwords and catch phrases like “zero-emissions,” “carbon-free” and “emission-free” are used to describe these vehicles all the time. But are these claims true?

While a fully-electric or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles produce no harmful emissions while in use, it’s important to remember that a truly zero-emission vehicle avoids the production of carbon emissions throughout its entire life cycle.

Right now, to drive an electric car like the popular Nissan LEAF, you’ve got to plug it up to a home or commercial charging station, and chances are that station gets its power from a coal-fired or nuclear power plant.

But don’t be discouraged yet!

New technologies for powering electric and other alternative fuel vehicles are being developed all the time. Most recently both General Motors (maker of the Chevy Volt) and Ford Motor Company (maker of the new fully-electric Focus) have partnered with solar energy companies to design and install home solar charging stations for EV owners.

Ford partnered with SunPower for its “Drive Green for Life” program, which offers a 2.5-kilowatt rooftop solar system. The system will be installed on the new Ford owner’s home roof and connected to the grid. The idea is for the system to generate enough power to completely make up for the expense of charging the electric vehicle at night.

According to a company statement, the system is designed to produce enough power to charge a Ford for an average of 1,000 miles of driving each month. Any energy the car doesn’t need goes back into the grid. And most utility companies offer some sort of incentive to homeowners who install solar.

General Motors recently signed commercial agreements with Sunlogics for the installation of solar charging canopies at many Chevrolet dealerships and GM facilities, as well as a power purchase agreement to install large-scale solar arrays at GM facilities and purchase the energy they produce.

Utilizing solar energy in this way not only eliminates alternative vehicles’ large draw on the already stressed electric grid, it also helps to establish a nationwide fueling infrastructure for EV drivers. This will help to convince more consumers that alternative vehicles are here to stay, and that by patronizing fueling stations powered by the sun, they are truly participating in zero-emissions transportation.

About the Author.

Beth Buczynski is a freelance writer from Colorado. She enjoys exploring new energy technologies and solar financing options over at GreenMarketingTV, the green entrepreneur’s source for interviews with the industry’s top thinkers.

* 1st solar photo by Bathroom Improvement via flickr.com

2 Responses

  1. We need more innovation and forward thinking like this. Bravo!

  2. […] energy plan to leaders who are already doing that. Thirty of our 50 states have adopted goals for sustainable energy, and some have already achieved them. The council would have a rotating two-year board consisting […]

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