2010-top-stories

Everyone’s breaking out their ‘Best of’ and ‘Worst of’ 2010 lists right now. So, we’d figured we’d join in too. Okay, we know it’s not an original format, but, as far as we know, no one else is going to look at 2010 through the lens of solar-charged driving.

So, here goes, SolarChargedDriving.Com’s list of Five Things That Helped Drive EV+PV Forward in 2010:

leaf-crowdNissan delivers the all-electric LEAF. You can’t drive fully on sun without a pure electric vehicle. Before the arrival of the LEAF late this year in select U.S. markets, there was no affordable contemporary mainstream EV to plug into the sun. Now there is. Of course, it’s unclear how quickly Nissan will get LEAFs into the hands of the first 20,000 folks in the U.S. who have made reservations. But we’re hopeful most of them might park a LEAF in their driveway by the end of 2011. And we know more than a few of those folks will be running their LEAF on sun. Don’t believe us? Then check out the chatter about solar in the Environmental Forum on MyNissanLeaf.com.

volt-big-grayGeneral Motors delivers the plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt. Okay, so the Volt’s not a pure electric vehicle. But you can run it at least partially on sun. And, if you’ve got a short commute, say 30 miles or less round-trip, you can come close to running it almost 100 percent on solar-generated electricity, as GM claims the Volt will run in all-electric mode for somewhere between 25 and 50 miles, depending on a number of factors (speed, outside temperature, use of the car’s heater, etc.). The Volt also makes a perfect addition to the LEAF, or another pure EV, in the more than 50 percent of households in the U.S. with two or more cars. Power the pure EV 100 percent with sun and power as many miles as you can in the Volt with sun as well and you could be filling up a gas tank in your two-car household just a handful of times per year!

nyit-solar-carport-bigSolar-powered EV charging stations begin to take off. We know of more than two dozen solar-powered EV charging stations in the U.S. (see our Global Map of Solar-Powered Plug-in Stations). A few that stand out: One at a California McDonald’s, one at the New York Institute of Technology, one at a Florida utility, one at the GM plant where the Chevy Volt is being built, and, finally, a giant solar array that just went up in Eastern Washington State complete with three EV charging stations. Nothing more clearly illustrates the radical, and radically simple, synergy between solar and electric vehicles than a solar-powered plug-in station. We can’t wait to see more solar-powered EV charging stations go up in 2011 – and we know we will as solar and transportation continue to merge.

gillete-stadium-panelsSolar goes mainstream in the U.S. While it’s still significantly behind European leaders like Germany and Italy, the U.S. has been seeing solid growth in solar in the past few years, including in 2010. Just as important as this growth is the fact that 2010 and the year or two prior to that have shown, once and for all, that solar isn’t only for lefties, greenies, or techies. When you see major sporting venues such as the Staples Center, Gillette Stadium, Lincoln Financial Center, and even a NASCAR race track (Pocono Speedway) either already with solar panels or about to be adorned with panels, you know solar isn’t just for “weenies” anymore. Heck, the President of the United States can – and will – put up solar panels on the White House and easily shake off snide commentary about solar being just for liberals and greenies. Nobody’s listening to this outdated commentary anymore. They’re too busy putting up solar. That’s a big deal in a country (in)famous for its anti-elitism, and in a nation that consumes, per capita, far more energy than any other on earth.

solar-impulseInnovations at the intersection of solar and transportation. From Envison Solar’s dual-axis tracking Solar Tree, which we hope to see populating parking lots all across America and the world soon, to a solar-powered motorcycle designed and built by a Purdue University student, to the PlanetSolar catamaran solar-powered boat currently making an historic journey around the world, to the Solar Impulse, a solar-powered plane which designers plan to fly around the world, it’s clear that, more and more, solar and transportation – two things most average folks don’t think about together – are in fact coming together. Given the tremendous amounts of fossil fuel used to power the world’s transportation sector, the merging of solar and vehicles that drive on land, on water, and fly in the air is a tremendously exciting development!

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