David and Megan Kollar with their all-electric Nissan LEAF in front of their energy efficient and partially solar-powered home. [Photo Courtesy of David Kollar]
David Kollar comes from the Bluegrass Region of Kentucky and was born and raised on the Kentucky fields. Living all his life around nature, his love for green things has only expanded as he’s moved into mid-life.
“When I was young, I had access to the woods around our home, and spent much time exploring them,” says Kollar. “Now, nothing clears my mind like a long hike through the woods. Who doesn’t enjoy connecting with nature?”
A television broadcast engineer, Kollar is one of Kentucky’s self-proclaimed “first settlers” in green energy. Not only has he moved towards a more sustainable way of living, but he is also pushing for change and awareness through his web page, Kyleaf.com.
One of the primary ways Kollar is living more sustainably is by tapping the energy of the sun, both via solar PV and solar thermal.
David and Paula Shira partially fuel this Toyota Plug-in Prius with solar electricity generated via their 7.3 kW home solar system. [Photo Courtesy of David Shira]
Multiple studies have shown that solar is contagious. Once one homeowner goes solar, neighbors take note and often go solar themselves.
However solar is more contagious in some places than others. That’s certainly the case in a small corner of Central Florida, where, in the span of just a few years, one neighborhood has gone from zero local solar production to more than 100 kW, and from zero solar rooftops to a dozen.
It’s not by chance that solar happens to be more contagious in this particular area of Central Florida. You, see, not every neighborhood has a David Shira. A solar advocate with lots of energy and an easy going, friendly demeanor, Shira, who’s an everyday home solar owner not a professional solar sales guy, is the perfect sales person for sun energy.
Linda and Keith Swyderski's solar-charged Nissan LEAF next to a conventional Toyota Prius soon-to-be-converted to a plug-in hybrid Prius. [Photo Courtesy of Linda Swyderski]
Sometimes readers of SolarChargedDriving.Com e-mail us with pictures of their own personal solar-charged driving set-ups and, if we can, we try to persuade them to let us run their pictures so that everyone else can see them too.
That's the case with Linda Swyderski, who was inspired to e-mail us based on a blog entry I wrote about my 20-year-old Acura Integra, which I bought new in 1992.
Linda, who e-mailed SolarChargedDriving.Com the picture-perfect EV + PV photo above, wrote us about her own clunker car story and what it was that finally inspired her to say goodbye to her clunker -->
"I just gave my 1991 Honda CRX HF (got 61 mpg highway, 40+ mpg locally) to a young fella who is converting it to all electric. Why did I give up my beloved CRX after it yielded me 280K solid and safe miles on the odometer? Because we bought a Nissan Leaf to replace it!"
Don Auker's Tesla Roadster and Vectrix electric scooter in front of the 16 kW home solar gas station that tanks them up regularly. [Photo Courtesy of Don Auker]
Don Auker describes himself as a “techie.” A software developer from Lebanon, Penn., he has always had an interest in innovative technology. However, his technological interest goes beyond just computers.
Auker is also the proud owner of some of the most innovative vehicles currently on the market: A Tesla Roadster, one of the first that rolled off the assembly line, and a Vectrix electric scooter, according to Auker, the first one delivered in the U.S.
And to top it all off: Both of these vehicles are powered by his home’s 60-panel solar system.
Dr. Rob Wilder in his solar-charged Tesla Roadster. [Photo Courtesy of Rob Wilder]
Dr. Rob Wilder is a classic Californian. The Encinitas resident enjoys surfing, dining, bicycling and travelling, all exactly as a good Californian should. He also owns an expensive car, another classic “Cali” expectation.
The difference between Wilder and other Californians, however, is that his expensive car doesn’t run on gas—his Tesla Roadster runs on electricity generated by solar energy.
Felix Kramer standing with Chevy Volt next to Lake Tahoe in January 2011. [Photo Credit: CalCars.org]
Felix Kramer is a lifetime runner, author, entrepreneur and environmental advocate. He has a motivation to be the first to “start things that have never been done before.”
So, people familiar with his work can understand why he was the founder California Cars Initiative (CalCars) in 2002, and why, two years later, CalCars became the first to convert a Toyota Prius into a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV).
And now, Kramer and his wife recently became the first people in the world to own two of the new mass-produced plug-in cars: the Chevy Volt and Nissan LEAF.
Columbia University graduate students Garrett Fitzgerald (left) and Rob Van Haaren (right) plan to drive a production EV across the U.S. next summer using only power generated by a unique, rollable solar array. [Photo Courtesy of SolarJourneyUSA.com]
A cross-country road trip is virtually every American university student’s dream.
Usually, the dream is to zip across America in a car, maybe on a motorcycle, or, if you’re a little bit more adventurous and hardy, on a bicycle.
But in a solar-charged car?
You’ve got to be kidding!
Not if you’re Garrett Fitzgerald and Rob Van Haaren.
A Nissan LEAF and a Chevy Volt parked in George Parrott's and Christine Iwahashi's Sacramento, Calif. area garage (notice the solar inverters behind the LEAF!) [Photo Courtesy of George Parrott]
If you think no one is going to buy electric cars, much less power them with solar, you might want to re-think your thinking. As the pages of SolarChargedDriving.Com show, there’s plenty of evidence to the contrary.
But don’t take our word for it. Go and see for yourself.
You might want to start with a trip to the Greater Sacramento, Calif. area and George Parrott’s house. Parrott and his wife, Christine Iwahashi, are among the very first people in the United States with both a Chevy Volt and a Nissan LEAF – and they’ve got solar on their home’s rooftop, enough to cover nearly all of the annual electric miles they’ll be driving in their plug-in hybrid and pure electric vehicles plus all of the electricity they use for their home.
“My best impression is that we’re the second household that has both cars,” explains Parrott. “The first was Felix Kramer’s in the (San Francisco) Bay Area. His house is also heavily solar equipped.”
Paul Moore poses next to a Ford Ranger Electric which is partially powered by a solar array on his Phoenix, Ariz. area home. [Photo Courtesy of Paul Moore]
Can one person persuade America – and the world -- that solar-charged driving is the future? Probably not. But if there’s someone who could come close, it’s Paul Moore.
Articulate, funny, able to tell good stories, and, most importantly, someone you can connect with on a personal level, whether you’re a left-leaning greenie or a right-leaning energy independence guy, Moore has energetically taken up the mantle of EV + solar PV education and promotion in his corner of the world, which just so happens to be one of the best places on earth for solar: Arizona.
GM-Volt.Com's Lyle Dennis in front of his favorite car. [Photo Credit: General Motors]
There are bandwagon jumpers and then there are the people who start the bandwagon long before it’s a bandwagon.
Lyle Dennis, founder of the popular web site GM-Volt.com, which is devoted to Chevy’s new plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), or as GM prefers to call it, an “extended range electric vehicle” (EREV), is very definitely one of the latter.