Electric Vehicles, Smart Grid, Residential Solar Power: A Virtuous Circle Emerges

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Photo credit: Nissan USA

Isn’t it great when everything just seems to come together to create a virtuous circle? That’s what’s happening in and around San Diego, California with the combination of electric vehicles (EVs), a smart grid, and residential solar power systems.

Electric vehicles are becoming more popular and more affordable in the US as auto manufacturers ramp up production and promotion. The same is true for residential solar power systems where government and manufacturer incentives and falling costs are making them more affordable than they’ve ever been.

Combine this with innovative, forward-looking electric utilities rolling out new customer pricing models along with demand response smart grid systems and a virtuous circle can be created, and it’s happening in and around San Diego today.

San Diegans drive an average 12,000 miles per year, leaving them an annual gasoline or fuel bill of $2,220 alone to operate their petrol-powered vehicles. Driving a Nissan Leaf EV for a year, by contrast, will result in annual fuel costs of just $343 a year, or $6.60 a week, an annual savings of nearly $1900, Solare Energy’s Jose Contreras explains in a Sept. 10 Ramona Herald blog post.

“Combining an electric vehicle and a home solar power system “is the best way to reap maximum savings,” Contreras explains.

San Diego Gas & Electric (SG&E) has equipped area homes with smart grid-based demand response capabilities that enable customers with residential solar power systems to sell electricity to the grid operator according to a rate schedule that pays them more to do so during the day when electric power demand is high than at night, when demand is low.

Electric vehicle owners, on the other hand, pay lower rates to recharge their vehicles overnight during off-peak hours. The particulars wind up meaning that home solar power and EV owners “only need a solar system that creates half the electricity required by their vehicle to offset its total charging cost…. A small, 1.2-kilowatt solar system priced at around $4,000 will cover charging costs for an electric vehicle for up to 40 years,” according to Contreras.


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