I used to work in the solar industry, so it’s something that is close to my heart. I got into the commercial and industrial solar industry (C&I) in 2015. At that time, Zimbabwe was going through an extensive power rationing program as the utility was battling to meet demand. This was due to several reasons that included aging coal power stations and a serious foreign currency shortage which meant that they would struggle to import power from its neighbours in the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP). The power cuts at that time were unbearable and often lasted up to 18 hours a day. That means that people were not only affected at work during the day but also well into the evening peak periods at home and extending up to 11:00pm. We therefore looked into home solar solutions coupled with battery storage for backup during the power cuts.
One of the companies in the home solar industry that I followed very closely and looked up to back then (and I still do up to now) was Sunrun. Sunrun is the #1 home solar company in America, and therefore I followed them closely to keep up to date with developments in the home solar market. Sunrun now has an exciting partnership with Ford where it has teamed up to make vehicle-to-home (V2H) technology available to people who buy an F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck. Sunrun also offers electric vehicle chargers.
As Zach said in his article on Sunrun now offering EV chargers, “On the transportation side, we’ve been burning stuff and burning stuff and burning stuff in order to push large, heavy vehicles (and ourselves) forward.” As the majority of the world’s vehicle fleet is still ICE vehicles, people burning stuff to move from A to B includes companies involved in the clean energy sector, including those in the solar business. I worked in business development, sales, as well as in technical operations at my old job in East and Southern Africa in the solar sector. In all those roles, one does a lot of driving or taking Uber rides all over the city and country. Most of these vehicles are still fossil-fuel-powered vehicles and we need to electrify them as soon as possible. This is why I was very excited to read Sunrun’s latest announcement this week that it has added Ford F-150 Lightnings electric pickup trucks to its fleet.
Sunrun has started rolling these F150s across the country and has a goal of transitioning half of its fleet to electric or hybrid by the end of 2025. This is all very exciting to me especially since I can relate to it having worked in the solar industry. There is a whole lot of driving in this industry (like in many other sectors) to visit customers on sales visits, installation visits, as well as followup visits for general operations and maintenance issues. In sales, the sales cycle can be quite long, especially in the C&I sector for long-term PPAs. That means tens of trips to see the same customer over a prolonged period, along with visits to the engineering site and driving around on other business matters. Solar companies adopting EVs for their operations with all the driving they do will be a great advert for electric mobility. They get to meet a lot of people at their homes and offices and will be a great channel for EV exposure.
Apart from decreasing their transportation emissions, solar companies can partner with EV companies just as Sunrun and Ford have done in several areas across the EV and solar value chain. As the penetration of renewables such as solar continues to grow, we will get more and more people charging on sunshine, unlocking efficiencies, and reducing their electricity bills for their homes as well as their “fuel” bills for their vehicles.
Featured image from Sunrun
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