Recharged By Renewables
FPL Group and Duke Energy are the renowned companies known for their commitment to clean and green energy. It is often said, charity begins at home. They are trying to lead by example. They will collaborate with each other and invest $600 million to transition all their company passenger cars and trucks to plug-in hybrid or all-electric vehicles. This process will be set into motion by the next year and more than 10,000 vehicles will have the capability of re-energizing from the power grid.
They announced at the Clinton Global Initiative’s (CGI) fifth annual meeting in New York City that if they will be able to achieve their goals this will lead towards the reduction in the greenhouse gas emissions by more than 125,000 metric tons over the next 10 years. They are hoping to complete their project by 2020.
The companies press release is quite encouraging for the advocates of clean and green energy, “Plug-in electric vehicles reduce overall carbon emissions by up to 70 percent (100 percent if charged by zero-carbon, renewable energy sources) and lower fuel costs by about 80 percent. If PEVs replaced all gasoline-powered vehicles in the United States, they would reduce the need for foreign oil imports by nearly two-thirds.”
It is good news for alternative energy lovers. People, politicians and companies would aspire to achieve these goals. Who can dispute achieving the targets of massive reductions in carbon emissions and oil imports? But merely the initiative of two companies is not enough. These goals should be pursued at national level.
Vehicles running on intermittent renewables (like solar and wind) and electric vehicles don’t give a smooth ride. They come with hitches. One of the common problems they all share is range. Solar power is only produced during daytime. Wind provides power when the wind is blowing: that’s its range. The plug-ins that come with vehicles have their range as well. It’s as far as the vehicle can travel between lengthy recharging.
If we pay close attention we can get rid of the common “range” problem of electric vehicles and intermittent renewables. This problem can be tackled by the two working together. Plug-in vehicles contain a battery pack for energy storage. But as far as renewables are concerned there is no storage of energy. We can do one thing : use electric cars and trucks to store energy from renewables. Another logical step can be to install enough renewably powered, high-voltage, fast-charge charging stations. It will ease off the tensions from vehicle owners and make charging more frequent so that long charging periods would not be necessary.
SolarCity ® and Rabobank are trying to achieve the above objectives in partnership in California. The companies have jointly declared, “a partnership to create the world’s first solar-power enhanced, fast-charge electric car charging corridor. When complete, the corridor will include four locations between San Francisco and Los Angeles (Salinas, Atascadero, Santa Maria and Goleta), allowing all-electric cars to make the trip using solar energy and provide for the fastest charge time available for public electric vehicle (EV) charges.”
SolarCity will possess and control stations on the corridor. They will work with electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla Motors. Solar charging, using 240 volt charging will provide a full charge in one-third the amount of time of other charging stations. The corridor will present an example of the first interregional effort of its kind. It will have another first i.e. to include solar power at a charging station. Rabobank has already established its first 30 kilowatt array at a branch bank. They are assessing installing solar power at additional locations. When not used to charge cars the power will offset power used at the locations.
We can use intermittent renewables to our advantage. We can extent this green electricity to our home. A plug from car to house can power-up a house overnight.