An anniversary is a good time to reflect on change – and a lot has changed since we launched in Sept. 2009. Here’s a list of some of the most important and exciting changes for solar-charged driving during the past two years.
More widespread availability of EVs. One of the biggest – and most exciting changes — is that production electric cars such as the Nissan LEAF and the Chevy Volt are now available for purchase in parts of the U.S. and other countries around the world. Not only has this increased interest in, and, obviously, accessibility to, electric cars, it’s also helped drive solar-charged driving forward. Many people who buy an electric car start to think about solar and, eventually, many of them install solar. In fact, there’s anecdotal evidence that up to 50% of early EV adopters are opting to put solar up.
Exponential growth in solar-powered EV charging stations. Two years ago, there weren’t many solar-powered EV charging stations in the U.S. – and there wasn’t much news about new solar-powered EV charging stations being built. That’s changed dramatically during the past year. We’ve mapped more than 50 solar-powered EV charging stations in the U.S., plus a smattering of solar EV charging stations in other countries, and most of these have gone up in the past 12 to 15 months. And there’s more growth coming in the U.S. – a ton, actually. For instance, GM plans to add more than 200 solar-powered EV charging stations at dealerships across the U.S. in the next year or so, effectively increasing the total number of such stations five-fold. There will be plenty of additional solar EV charging stations built by other players in the U.S. as well. And then there’s solar-powered EV charging in global solar leader Germany: According to Solartankstelle.Com, there are several hundred solar EV charging stations in Germany — with new ones being added quickly.
Automakers directly promoting solar-charged driving. Veteran EV + PV advocates and practitioners have long pointed out that linking electric cars to green, clean solar-generated electricity is a no-brainer. In the past year – as we predicted two years ago – big name automakers such as Audi, Ford, GM, Honda, Mitsubishi, and Nissan, have recognized this as well. For instance, several of these automakers have constructed solar-powered EV charging stations at company headquarters, and auto plants, and, in GM’s case, at auto dealerships. GM is in the lead right now in terms of tapping the positive publicity of the solar + EV synergy with its so-called Green Zone Initiative, which will see the company construct more than 200 solar-powered EV charging stations at GM dealerships across the U.S. in the next 12 months or so. But some of the others aren’t far behind – as the next entry shows.
Automakers partnering directly with solar companies. In the U.S., Ford has created a partnership with SunPower to help sell home solar to Ford Focus Electric buyers and, in New Zealand, Mitsubishi has done the same with SolarCity. We expect to see more of these partnerships soon.
EVs on the radar for more solar companies and for solar industry. Two years ago, the solar industry wasn’t paying much attention to solar-charged driving and only a few installers were doing anything to actively promote the solar + EV synergy. That’s changed. Many solar industry organizations — Solar Energy Industries Association, American Solar Energy Society, etc. – are clearly beginning to pay attention to EVs, as evidenced, for instance, by links and news that they post to their Facebook pages. More solar installers than before are also paying attention to EVs, for instance, by directly referencing EVs on their web site, and some have even bought electric cars as fleet vehicles to show the radical potential of the home solar + EV synergy. SolarCity, which has officially jumped into the EV charging business, which has partnered with Mitsubishi in New Zealand, and which has had EV + PV on its radar for many years is the clear leader in the solar industry in terms of grasping the significance of EVs to growing solar. While there is growing awareness of EVs in the solar industry and among solar installers, why more solar installers haven’t yet woken up to the vast potential of EVs to grow solar is, frankly, a bit of a mystery to us.
Solar-charged driving generating more media coverage. Two years after launching, we’re still the only site on the web that we know of that’s devoted exclusively to covering and promoting the solar + electric vehicle synergy. But that doesn’t mean other media aren’t covering EV + PV. In fact, solar-charged driving is garnering more and more media attention. This is happening not only in niche media such as EV publications and solar publications, but in the mainstream media as well. There are also a lot more press releases about new solar-powered EV charging stations, about new solar + auto industry partnerships, etc. that we can pick up on SolarChargedDriving.Com. Basically, it’s become easier and easier to fill our “news hole” with news that is focused specifically on our “bread and butter” – the direct synergy between solar and electric cars. That noted, the vast majority of coverage we see, in particular in the mainstream U.S. media, still buries the solar angle. In fact, we’ve seen mainstream media coverage of individuals we know who have both an EV and home solar that focuses only on the EV and completely ignores the fact that these individuals have solar and are harnessing the power of the sun to fuel their EV.