Electric vehicles (EV) are often portrayed as the saviour of the planet, battling against the evil carbon emissions with clean energy and no nasty exhaust fumes. But there’s a problem: if you’re charging them up with regular electricity from the grid, you’re still contributing to the CO2 count somewhere along the line.
So what do you do? Simple: charge them through solar power, and pump the excess energy back into the grid.
A renewable breakthroughTwo of the first EV charging stations powered entirely by renewable energy are demonstrated to the media at Audubon Machinery Corps HQ, with the aid of a couple of Chevy Volts from the local dealership.
Using turbines on site and solar panels on top of the headquarters, the charging stations charge a Volt’s 197kg lithium-ion battery using just the power of wind and sun alone, saving money and the earth in the process.
Any of the company’s fifty employees are entitled to charge their vehicles up for free at the points, and the excess energy produced by the system is used to power the building, and light up the flagpoles in the forecourt.
Audubon says the systems cost around $10k (£6,500), and has high hopes for them if not in the home, then at office buildings across the land.
If we can produce systems efficient enough to charge cars all years round from the sun and the wind, the benefits are obvious. Currently, charging up electric vehicles from the national grid merely shifts the problem, particularly in regions which rely on coal power stations rather than slightly more eco-friendly natural gas – ultimately, the nasty stuff still burns somewhere to make the wheels spin.