a solar EV

Reflecting on 10 years of SolarChargedDriving.Com — and on 10 years of solar + EV

The front page of SolarChargedDriving.Com
SolarChargedDriving.Com launched 10 years ago in September 2009.

Ten years ago, on Sept. 8, 2009, I launched SolarChargedDriving.Com into the world — and on to the World Wide Web. A decade later and more than 1,200 articles and blog entries, thousands of photos and dozens of videos, and nearly 300,000 unique visitors from well over 100 different countries later, SolarChargedDriving.Com is still here!

A LOT has happened across the past 10 years in solar and electric vehicles as well as in terms of the amazing — and exciting — synergy between the two.

When I started SolarChargedDriving.Com in September of 2009, I did not have an electric car, and they were not available on any meaningful widespread “mainstream” basis. There was far less solar in the United States, and around the world, in 2009 as well. And essentially no one was talking about things such as moving the U.S., and the world, off of fossil fuels and 100 percent to renewable energy forms such as solar electricity and wind.

That’s just scratching the surface, really, in terms of the massive, but also paradoxically also sometimes disappointingly slow changes in solar energy and electric vehicles since 2009.

Still there for me, is the excitement, even amazement, that I realized when I first discovered in the summer of 2009, when I began researching home solar for our home at 4000 S. Atchison Way in Aurora, Colo. — which I/we no longer own after it was sold in Nov. 2015 as a result of divorce.

My amazement — and joy — came from discovering that one can power a car and not produce any air pollution whatsoever.  I was absolutely giddy when I discovered that, amazingly!, you can drive a full-sized car 100 percent on sunshine! 

That is still amazing, wonderful, and cool to me — the fact that we could have a 100 percent air pollution free world, and I hope that one day we will get there!

We are not there yet, not even close, sadly. But there is hope that we can, and will, one day get to a 100 percent renewable energy and air pollution free world! There are just too many reasons — economic savings, environmental savings, etc. — why we have to get there!

I am, at this point, an EV + PV veteran and, while I can’t claim to know more than anyone else, there are relatively few people out there who have followed the EV + PV equation for as long as I have! I hope you enjoy reading these reflections. I also hope that enjoy reflecting yourself on how far we have come, and how far we have to go in the long-term drive to get the entire world Driving on Sunshine (and wind, etc.). A special hats off to you if you are a solar-charged driver yourself and/or are a strong EV + PV advocate. The world is a better place thanks to you and your efforts!

Here are 10 reflections about solar-charged driving and solar-charged EVs across the past 10 years ==>

A first-generation Nissan LEAF parked under a solar carport.

1. Disappointing growth in solar-charged EVs
When I first launched SolarChargedDriving.Com in Sept. 2009 I thought, FOR SURE, solar-charged driving would take off quickly once production electric vehicles became more widely available, which began to happen in the U.S. in 2011. Fueling independence and costs savings were the number one reasons that I thought, for sure, EV + PV would take off, big time, in the United States. The U.S. has a strong individualist independence streak AND lots of people in the U.S. like to save money. Home solar + an electric vehicle translates into BOTH fueling independence AND economic savings, BIG ECONOMIC SAVINGS. I WAS WRONG about lots of people plugging quickly into solar-charged driving. Not very many people have gone EV + PV in the U.S. across the past 10 years. It does seem that a large percentage of EV owners do indeed have solar: One Cleantechnica.Com survey of EV + PV conducted in 2017 showed that somewhere between 25 and 40 percent of EV owners had home solar. HOWEVER, these people still make up a tiny percentage of Americans, and drivers, in the United States, almost certainly LESS THAN 1 PERCENT. To me, that is VERY disappointing given the fact that home solar + electric vehicles delivers fueling independence and HUGE economic savings in the long-term.

My 2017 Chevy Bolt parked against the backdrop of Utah’s rugged beauty. The Bolt is a QUICK car!

2.  Driving an electric car is FUN!
We put a 5.5 kW home solar system on our Aurora, Colo. home in June 2010 — but we did not get an electric vehicle until February 2014, a leased 2014 Nissan LEAF. It was so MUCH FUN to drive. So quick, instant torque, quiet, smooth. It immediately made driving — which had become a bit of a chore with the ever increasing traffic in the Denver, Colo. area, which is one of the fastest growing areas in the whole United States — fun. The fun got even more fun when I turned my 2014 LEAF back in to Nissan in Sept. 2017 and leased a 2017 Chevy Bolt. The Bolt is even quicker than the LEAF and is just as smooth, quiet, and fun, to drive. I will NEVER go back to a gas car. In fact, I hate it when I have to drive a gas car, for instance, when I had to rent one when my 2017 Bolt was in the body shop for a week for hail damage repair this past June. Gas cars are a DRAG to drive. Slow, not peppy, dirty, smelly, loud, and just no fun. No fun at all!

An oil platform in the ocean.

3. ‘Peak Oil’ was/is a bust
Back in 2009, documentaries were being cranked out about the inevitable, and possibly quick, end of oil. I admit I enjoyed watching them — and anticipating sharply rising oil prices, which would then drive people toward EVs. Boy, were those documentary film makers WRONG, and, so, too, was I. Instead of Peak Oil, we have OIL GLUT — thanks at least in part to very environmentally destructive fracking. We also have seemingly endless cheap oil and gasoline, especially in the United States, where gasoline has always been far cheaper than in Europe or in Asia. That’s disappointing, because oil and gasoline are filthy. They are responsible for millions of early deaths worldwide every year due to the fact that burning them produces toxins such as carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide, sulfur dioxide, and, worst of of all, small particulates. Particulates lodge in our bloodstream and travel to places like our brain, heart, arteries, etc. Rather than everything ending with oil running out, we may instead see our oil glut killing off oil with even cheap oil ultimately being undercut by even cheaper renewable energy produced electricity + electric cars as, for instance, a recent study by BNP Paribas predicts.

4. EV adoption has been painfully slow
The general adoption of EVs has, in my view, generally been quite slow across the past 10 years. Yes, when you compare almost no EVs 10 years ago to millions globally today, that IS progress, even in some places, exponential progress. But, when you compare EV adoption to the hundreds of millions of ICEs that have been produced and bought across the past 10 years, EV adoption still doesn’t look so great. Honestly, I don’t quite understand why it is so slow given how much fun EVs are to drive, how much money they save you, how they can, when combined with home solar, deliver the extreme satisfaction of 100 percent fueling independence, and how much more environmentally friendly they are!

True ‘greenies’ in the U.S. should be doing what this ‘greenie’ with a Chevy Bolt in Parker, Colo. is doing: Solar-charging an EV 🙂

5. Too many American ‘greenies’ are LAME, LAME, LAME on EVs
Continuing along the thematic trajectory that solar + EV, and EV adoption have been disappointingly slow in the United States, I have to confess that I DO NOT GET SELF-PROFESSED ENVIRONMENTALISTS who go out and buy a new car and make that car a gasoline car. These alleged greenies are NOT putting their money where their mouth is and, worse, are, in many cases, outright hypocrites. Yes, some of those greenies might live in a one-car household and need to drive hundreds of miles every day (although what’s green about that, I do not know), and/or they might live in an apartment complex and have to park on a street and not be able to charge, etc.  However, I am willing to bet that a lot of American greenies, many of whom are comparatively affluent, live in TWO-CAR households and do not need both of those cars to be ICEs. One of those cars could be a big SUV to hold all of their kids (although the more kids you have, the less green you are/can be) and could be used for long trips (most Americans do no more than one to three long(er) “road trips” a year). But their other car should be a 100 percent EV. This is especially true given that Generation 2 EVs such as my 2017 Chevy Bolt offer well over 200 miles of range. There is no good excuse for many, probably most, ‘greenies’ in TWO-CAR households in the U.S. not to make one of their two cars a full electric car. Yet, many self-declared “progressives” are not doing this. Why Not?! I do not understand! Honestly, in my view, at this point, with affordable 200+ mile EVs, you ARE NOT GREEN if you are in a position where one of your cars easily could be electric, and BOTH of your cars are still ICEs!

A wind farm and a solar farm share space in Central Germany. [Photo by Christof Demont-Heinrich]
6. Renewable energy IS THE FUTURE
Back in 2009 when I first launched SolarChargedDriving.Com, almost no one was talking about a 100 percent renewable energy grid. Those who were were automatically dismissed as quacks, extremists, nut cases, etc. That’s no longer true 🙂 LOTS of people all over the United States, and the world, ARE talking about 100 percent renewable energy AND, though they are still dismissed by RIGHT-WING QUACKS as, well, “quacks”, MOST people no longer dismiss 100 percent renewable energy advocates as “quacks”. In fact, large majorities of people in the United States support moving to 100 percent renewable energy in the USA. That, my friends, is a HUGE switch from 2009, virtually a night and day switch. And, boy, is it ever a positive switch! Of course, now we need to move beyond supporting 100 percent renewable energy in polls and surveys to actually building a 100 percent renewable energy USA — and world!

Peder Norby was one of the first people in the U.S. to solar-charge an EV.

7. I’ve met so many great people in 10 years of doing SolarChargedDriving.Com
There are so many wonderful, great, interesting, reflective, smart people out there who are working toward advancing EV + PV, EVs, and renewables and a better world. I’ve been able to meet many of these people, either via social media and/or by doing feature stories about them for SolarChargedDriving.Com. I am so grateful they are out there and that I have had the pleasure of getting to know them and to work with them across the past decade toward making the world a better, cleaner place for all!

8. Without Tesla, we would be NOWHERE on EVs
Speaking of grateful, I am so grateful to Elon Musk and Tesla. Without Musk and Tesla, we would not be anywhere near where we are today on advancing electric vehicles or on advancing solar-charged driving. It. Would. Not. Even. Be. Close. Tesla has pushed all the other car makers to do more, MUCH MORE, on electric vehicles than they ever would have done — and, frankly, more than they ever really wanted to do. ONLY Tesla is a 100 percent EV maker and only Tesla has a clear, focused, vested interest in making EVs grow. Traditional carmakers have had little incentive to push toward electric vehicles. The status quo inertia of human social and economic life = the single biggest reason that ICE makers have only reluctantly moved toward EVs, and, frankly, pretty darn slowly at that! Human beings are creatures of habit — ESPECIALLY WHEN IT COMES TO CAPITALIST PROFIT — and ICE makers have made lots and lots of money on making ICEs for decades and decades. So, thank you, Elon, for all that you have done, and for moving the proverbial needle on electric cars. Anyone who claims we would be anywhere near where we are on EVs without Elon, and Tesla, well, they are JUST PLAIN WRONG!

Traffic to SolarChargedDriving.Com has come from all over the world.

9. Solid web traffic to SolarChargedDriving.Com across past 10 years
I didn’t launch SolarChargedDriving.Com to way back in September 2009 to make money. I created it to spread the word on the amazing synergy between solar energy generated electricity and electric vehicles, a synergy that can, for literally millions of people deliver 100 percent fueling independence and 100 percent air pollution free driving! I think I’ve done a solid job of advancing the word about EV + PV, especially in the first five years I did SolarChargedDriving.Com. That was before a divorce, family implosion and massive life stress somewhat derailed me for several years. Of course, even during those rough years, I continued to keep SolarChargedDriving.Com going and consistently created new content, though not nearly as much new content as during the first five years, for the site. Across the past 10 years, SolarChargedDriving.Com has had close to 300,000 unique visitors. They’ve come from more than 100 countries in the world (the vast majority of visitors come from the United States, and then, next, from other dominant English speaking countries such as the UK, Canada, and Australia). Sure, I wish I could have generated twice that many visitors, or, heck, five times that many 😉 But 300,000 people isn’t bad, and I am certain that more than a few of them got turned on to solar-charged driving to the point where they went out and plugged an EV into home solar. And that makes me happy, so profoundly happy!

Renewable energy + electrification = the future of the world.

10. Yes, we can — and will! — go to a 100 percent renewable energy + 100 percent electrified world
Some of my entries above have been perhaps a bit “negative” in the sense that I had hoped I would see much quicker growth in solar, electric vehicles and, especially solar + electric vehicles than we have so far in the United States. But at the core of my “negativity” is actually “positivity”. I was 100 percent “enthused” when I first discovered that it was possible to drive 100 percent on sunshine. That was, and still is, soooo coool! I am certain that the rest of humanity will plug in to EV + PV (and wind, geothermal, wave, etc. power). I am certain because it HAS to happen. We have no other reasonable, or good, choices, other than to abandon the dirty fossil fuels, which we continue to burn today and which we should have gotten off of yesterday. Yes, fossil fuels DID deliver a quality of life unsurpassed in human history for many (but certainly not all) people. HOWEVER, just as fossil fuels “surpassed” previous technologies they, too, will — and must — be surpassed. It is FAR PAST TIME TO SURPASS FOSSIL FUELS. Time to move to 100 percent renewable energy + 100 percent electrification (ok, maybe not for commercial jets and perhaps also not for huge, long-distance ocean ships, but everything else!). We need to do this ASAP, and I am certain we will get there — we have no other choice if we want to survive as a species!

My 2014 Nissan LEAF in front of the house with the 5.5 kW “solar gas station” I owned for several years — prior to divorce ;-).