Electric Vehicles, Solar Technology, and Charging.

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Introduction: Electric Vehicles, Solar Technology, and Charging. 

It’s clear that electric vehicles, or EVs, are revolutionizing the automobile industry. Year after year, all around the world, more and more electric vehicles are being sold, while charging networks expand to handle the increased demand. There’s little doubt that pound for pound, electric vehicles are much better for the environment than traditional internal combustion engine vehicles are. In this blog, we’ll take a look at how electric vehicles have shaken things up, the options for charging these vehicles, and how solar panel technology fits in. Let’s talk cars. 

People Drive – A Lot

Here in Australia, people drive quite a bit. Using information taken from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, all vehicle types traveled an average of 12.1 thousand kilometres in 2020. Breaking that down, we can see that passenger vehicles traveled 11.1 thousand kilometres on average over the same period. People love their cars. Unfortunately, all of these vehicles traveling all of this distance also meant that a total of 33,019 megalitres of fuel was used, which includes 18,094 megalitres consumed just by passenger vehicles. Cars aren’t just a convenience for many people, they’re a necessity. However, the environmental impact of all those gas-guzzling cars traveling all those kilometres year in and year out cannot be ignored. 

The Electric Vehicle Revolution

It’s not surprising that many environmentalists, tech geeks, and car enthusiasts alike have been so excited about the steady rise in popularity that electric vehicles have enjoyed in recent years. They’re sleek, modern, and better for the environment. Right here in Australia, electric vehicles are just going to get more popular, and they’re estimated to account for 70-100% of all vehicle sales by 2040. Even right now, there are about 20,000 EVs in Australia. People are excited about the electric vehicle revolution. 

Though the concept is simple – just replace the old internal combustion engine with all-electric components – it took a while for the concept to completely catch on. There are a handful of reasons for this, which we’ll explore throughout this blog. One is that, depending on where you live, public chargers may not yet be conveniently located. Another is that they become more or less environmentally friendly based on how much the corresponding electric grid is powered by renewables sources. 

Charging an Electric Vehicle

Whether you have an old internal combustion engine in your car or a bunch of batteries, you need a lot of power to make your vehicle go. This means that for electric vehicles, you have to make sure you’re charged up and ready to go and that the next available charging station is a reasonable distance away. Most electric vehicle owners also have an at-home charging setup, allowing them to top up once they’re back home for the day. 

There are four levels of charging for electric vehicles, including an ultra-fast charging level. These different levels simply differentiate how much power is delivered to the vehicle, and thereby how long it takes to charge. For example, you’re likely to find a level 1 EV charger at someone’s home, and it would take anywhere from five to sixteen hours to get to a full charge. On the other hand, a level 4 charger would be found in public, typically along a highway or other key routes, and could charge an EV in twenty to forty minutes. 

Right now, there are an estimated 2,500 EV charging stations in Australia. That number is likely to go up in the future, as it’s clear that electric vehicles will only get more accessible and popular over time. 

Solar Panels, Electric Vehicles, and EV Charging

Of course, EVs become better for the environment the more renewables are used to generate the electricity they need. Luckily for Australia, production of electricity has come more and more from renewable sources – according to the Clean Energy Council, 27.7% of all of Australia’s electricity generation came from renewable sources in 2020, with that number expected to rise over the coming years and decades. To break that down even further, solar technology accounted for 9.9% of all electricity generation in Australia, for the same period. This means that a good chunk of the electricity used to power those EVs comes from renewable sources. That’s a huge win for the environment. 

And, it likely won’t stop there. Not only will the electric grid continue to harness the power of renewable energy sources, but numerous companies are working on placing solar panels directly on those EV chargers or in the roofs of EVs themselves. As always, the future is bright for solar technology and electric vehicles. 

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