It’s amazing how persuasive actual, hard numbers can be.
Even I — a big advocate for solar-charged driving and the EV + renewable energy combination – have been surprised by the numbers we’ve generated so far in terms of our own budding experiment with this revolutionary combination.
In just two weeks, our newly installed 5.59 kW solar system (out-of-pocket costs = $8,500) has produced 304 kWh of excess electricity. That’s enough to power a full-sized electric car for 1,216 miles (1 kWh = 4 EV miles)!
Using a 20 m.p.g. average and $3 per gallon baseline, that’s $182 worth of gasoline savings. Of course, our solar system has provided 100 percent of our home electric use as well, saving us an additional $13.20 on top of that banked $182 worth of gasoline savings, for nearly $200 in savings in just two weeks.
And we’re just getting started in terms of generating what we at SolarChargedDriving.Com call Sun Miles™ , or solar-powered miles driven by an electric vehicle (EV) or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) whose batteries have been charged using solar energy.
We won’t be able to keep up our summer solar electricity production pace in the winter. However, assuming an annual kWh usage of 5,500 annual kWh per year (each 1 kWh = enough to power ten 100 watt light bulbs for 1 hour) and an annual system output of about 8,000 kWh, with electricity at about 11 cents per kWh ($600 per year) and 2,500 banked Sun Miles ($1,500 per year) we’re talking about $2,100 in savings per year – and these calculations assume no inflation on either electric rate or gasoline costs (obviously, an unlikely scenario!)
The bottom line: Our 5.59 kW system (which cost $8,500 out of pocket) will have paid itself off in just four years!
After that, we can count on free home electricity and free gasoline for another 20 years!
And people say solar is “too expensive”.
Many potential solar-charged drivers We are not an anomaly in terms of people with great rooftops in great-for-solar locations. There are many, many people who, by putting their money where their mouth is, could also be covering both their home electric use and banking Sun Miles™ for a future electric car.
As I’ve noted elsewhere, about 40 percent of the homeowners in our neighborhood of about 50-some single family homes could be doing the same thing as we are – if they went solar and if they reduced their home electric use at the same time.
If you live in a solar friendly state such as Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, New York, Rhode Island, or Oregon — I have to ask: Why aren’t you doing this now?
If asked, why they haven’t gone, or won’t go solar the majority of our neighbors would use the same old excuses, most notably , the “solar is expensive” excuse and insist they couldn’t do it – even though, financially, I’m sure many could, especially with solar leasing available in Colorado now.
It’s their loss if they don’t (well, actually, unfortunately, it’s also society’s loss if they don’t do it).
Again, it is the peak of summer here in sunny Colorado and our net plus kWh production will drop as the sun drops in the sky in the fall and winter.
However, the economic (and environmental) numbers will continue to get better for us in the long term. That’s because even as our neighbors hem and haw about solar being “too expensive” gas prices and home electric prices will continue to rise, most likely five percent or more per year.
But let’s just say something dramatic happens in the next few months – maybe a crisis in the Persian Gulf set off by an always unpredictable Iran – and gas prices in the U.S, spike to $5 per gallon (and to $12 a gallon or more in places like Norway and Belgium).
We won’t have an electric car yet (that’s coming in about 1 ½ years) but we have Sun Miles™ — thousands of them — banked for future EV use, and we’ll continue to add to these even as we use them.
Just for the fun of it, let’s look at our numbers with gas at $5 per gallon instead of $3. Then, just because that’s so much fun – and because, in fact, gas does cost this much in parts of the world – let’s see what our savings would be with gas at $8 per gallon. Then, to wrap things up, let’s project the $5 and $8 gas prices + our solar-charged savings beyond the two weeks we’ve had our system to the 12-month mark.
Two weeks with $3 gas, 20 m.p.g. Two weeks extra kWh total = 304 kWh = $182 in gas cost savings
Two weeks with $5 gas, 20 m.p.g. (countries with $5 = Austria, Bulgaria, Estonia) Two-week extra kWh total = 304 kWh = 1,216 Sun Miles = $304 in gas cost savings
Two weeks with $8 gas, 20 m.p.g. (countries with near $8 = Belgium, Netherlands, Norway) Two-week extra kWh total = 304 kWh = 1,216 Sun Miles = $608 in gas cost savings
12 months with $3 gas, 20 m.p.g. Estimated 12-month banked kWh total = 2,500 kWh = 10,000 Sun Miles = $1,500 in gas cost savings
12 months with $5 gas, 20 m.p.g. (countries with $5 = Austria, Bulgaria, Estonia) Estimated 12-month banked kWh total = 2,500 kWh = 10,000 Sun Miles = $2,500 in gas cost savings
12 months with $8 gas, 20 m.p.g. (countries with near $8 = Belgium, Netherlands, Norway) Estimated 12-month banked kWh total = 2,500 kWh = 10,000 Sun Miles = $4,000 in gas cost savings
While we in the U.S. have become accustomed to very low – really, artificially low – gas prices, there’s no guarantee they’ll stay that low or that a sudden, irreversible spike might not occur. And those $5, even $8 per gallon prices are not “out there” prices – they’re very real, at-the-pump prices for many people outside of the U.S.
Obviously, your total savings will vary according to a number of different factors, including your solar system size, how much sun you get where you live (if you live in the American Southwest, where a quarter of the U.S. population does indeed live, you’re sitting on a gold mine of sun energy), how big your roof is, its orientation, etc.
Unfortunately, many of you also could be stymied by 100 percent rules, which cut you off from utility rebates if you elect to put up a solar system that puts out more than 100 percent of your home’s annual electric use. In Colorado, the rebate cut-off point is actually 120 percent, and, thankfully, in some places, Nevada, for instance, utility rebates are capped according to general system size (usually 10 kW is the upper limit for residential systems) rather than tied to a percentage output.
The bottom line is that many people – way more than are currently taking advantage of this possibility – could be banking Sun Miles™ for future savings, but are not.
If you’re one of those people — especially if you live in a solar friendly state such as Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, New York, Rhode Island, or Oregon — I have to ask: Why aren’t you doing this now?
I know, I know: It’s “too expensive” to take the steps that will save you money, in a lot of cases, a lot of money.
In fact, what’s more expensive is failing to rip yourself free from status quo thinking – I know how hard this can be, it took a lot to convince my wife to go solar – and breaking for the substantial solar and Sun Miles™ savings that are out there just waiting for many of you to be had.
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