College students are often viewed as being at the cutting edge of technological change. But that apparently doesn’t hold true when it comes to solar-charged driving.
Based on interviews with several students at the University of Denver (DU) it seems there is a general lack of knowledge about the synergy between solar energy and electric vehicles.
All of the college students interviewed by SolarChargedDriving.Com agreed that solar power is a great alternative energy source to gasoline, but they were unaware that solar power is already being harnessed to charge EVs such as the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf.
Solar changes views on EVs
Solar-charged vehicles are powered by renewable electricity generated by solar panels located off board the vehicle, generally on the rooftop of a carport, home, or business. Currently, the number of solar-charged vehicles is small, but consumer interest is on the rise.
Most students were critical of EVs before learning that they could be solar charged and solar powered. Companies such as Greenlots, Sunlogics, and EV-Charge America have already begun to install EV charging stations with solar power panels.
The problem is that people are not very informed about EVs. I rarely see advertisements about them, and I had no idea that they could be solar-charged.
–Nick Smith, Junior, University of Denver
Like most critics of EVs, Lauren Cooper, a sophomore international studies major at DU, said that driving an EV is “choosing a lesser of two evils” if the electricity generated to power the vehicle comes from a coal-fired power station.
EV battery issues
Daniel Powell, a sophomore cognitive neuroscience major living in the Environmental Living and Learning Community at DU, also criticized EVs because “batteries aren’t where they should be and are still harmful to the environment.”
Cooper said she believes that EVs are great alternatives to gas-guzzling vehicles, but stated that they need to be made more affordable and user-friendly.
Powell agreed and said that he wants to see the government stop subsidizing oil production and development and start subsidizing solar, wind, and geothermal energy more to make renewable energy economical to consumers.
Potential of solar-charged EVs
All those interviewed at DU agreed that solar-charged EVs had great potential to clean up the air.
Jared Mazurek, a sophomore environmental science major at the university, argued that buying an EV, especially a solar-charged one, would be profitable in the long run because of savings on gas and electricity.
Nick Smith, a junior theater major at DU, agreed that having an EV could save money in the long run. However, he said he believes most people don’t have the patience to wait for long-term savings on gas.
Cooper noted that driving more EVs in the U.S. would reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil, which she described as “a major issue today, resulting in unnecessary international conflicts.”
Anne-Charlotte Wade, a DU senior art history major, noted that cars are the largest source of air pollution in the U.S., and said she believed that transforming the auto industry and transportation system to EVs will be necessary in order to make headway in improving air quality in the U.S.
Wade added that with all of the tax incentives to drive EVs, they seem more affordable than ever.
All of the students interviewed said that they would like to drive an EV if they could afford one, and also inducated they would be especially interested in a solar-charged EV.
EVs and the future
Wade said that more Americans would be willing to drive EVs if the culture was geared more towards them, and if people were more knowledgeable about them.
Smith agreed that EVs must be marketed better to attract more consumers.
“The problem is that people are not very informed about EVs. I rarely see advertisements about them, and I had no idea that they could be solar-charged,” he stated.
Growing green movement
As the green movement continues to gather speed, it is only a matter of time before many people make the switch from their gas-guzzling vehicles, according to Chelsea Augelli, a sophomore business major at DU.
“The government needs to stop subsidizing gas, and subsidize solar power and EVs more,” she said.
She suggested that if the government implemented a larger gas tax many more people would buy EVs.
Like other DU students, she agreed that there is a general lack of knowledge about EVs, especially solar-charged EVs, and that more education and advertising are needed to inform and encourage consumers.
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Saving the planet
Powell said he believes that the power of the sun has enormous potential to solve many of the environmental as well as health and national security problems that are endangering planet, noting that “it would be a crying shame to let it go to waste.”
“The truth is that not many people are even using solar power to power their houses, let alone their vehicles,” he noted.
“Imagine the difference it would make if everyone had solar panels on the roofs of their house?,” Powell added. “Countries like Germany are using solar power, and yet the U.S. receives so much more energy from the sun, so why can’t we too?”
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