A couple living north of Seattle in a very small town called Carlsborg recently purchased a Nissan Leaf. Since they already had a home solar power system to charge the all-electric Leaf, they don’t pay for it in a monthly bill. They are putting electricity back into the grid system to the utility company, so they are actually getting paid and say they make eight dollars every time they drive 100 miles. The sticker price on the Leaf was $36,000 but state and federal incentives reduced that number to $27,500.
Critics of solar power say it won’t ever become mainstream because it is too expensive. They are incorrect though, as solar technology prices will not stay where they are now due to the general shift away from conventional energy such as coal and renewables, because of climate change, geopolitics, and pollution issues. For example, Italy’s solar power capacity is set to grow nearly four times just in the next nine years. Also, increasing solar efficiency due to better engineering and research will make them produce more power. The transition period, like many large societal shifts, will be a time of confusion and even resistance, but eventually it will happen.
The Carlsborg couple is doing it, and their area does not have that many clear sunny days. In nearby Seattle that number is 71 per year. Phoenix and Las Vegas have over 210 clear sunny days each year, on average. San Francisco has 160, and Sacramento is slightly higher with 180. Phoenix has a very large population and a smog problem, so replacing gasoline cars there with electric ones would be a welcome change, and they clearly have much sunlight to do it.
A couple from Sausalito (near San Francisco) is also powering their electric Nissan Leaf from their home solar system, though a portion may also come from the grid. As home solar costs come down gradually, it may become more and more common for households to have the capacity for charging on their own electric vehicles.
Image Credit: Tennen Gas