BMW USolar-Powered Bamboo Carport
BMW Unveils Solar-Powered Bamboo Carport That Charges Electric Vehicles With the Sun (BMW)

Electric vehicles (EV) that self-charge, as they are driven, have long been a fantasy—but recent research has revealed that this is no longer a fictitious fantasy but a scientific product that is actually being tested in the field.

Researchers claim to have hit on the right combination of solar cell type and battery to charge an electric vehicle battery with higher efficiency than ever before. A team of researchers at Case Western Reserve University are working on a prototype of flexible cells that could be integrated seamlessly into the exterior surfaces of ordinary cars, which will charge the vehicle while being driven.

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At the center of making this fit possible, is the new perovskite solar cell technology—smaller sizes than traditional panels—that could soon revolutionize electric vehicle charging.

Okay—this exciting new technology is expected to become a reality in the near future, but what about the status of solar energy utilization with electric vehicles today?

A recent survey found that 32 percent of electric vehicle owners in the Western parts of the United States have solar panels on their homes.

The report explains that the trend is apparently due to continued decrease in the prices for installing solar photovoltaics (PV) and affording electric vehicles, which makes it appealing for many homeowners to opt for a PV4EV solution.

solar power car port

Electric vehicles parked in solar carport parking spaces utilize the energy produced by the solar panels during the day to charge their batteries. (Solar Power Rocks)

There is also the undeniable increasingly popular phenomenon of solar carports. Many commercial property owners install shades on an external parking space with solar panels on then to shade vehicles. The electric vehicles parked in these parking spaces utilize the energy produced by the solar panels during the day to charge their batteries.

All this, while the electric vehicle owners—who may be employees are at work.

Looking towards a sustainable future

It’s always important for homeowners to live sustainably in order to save money. So they have to plan accordingly when shopping around for a solar energy system installation.

Meaning that the system has to be sized and designed properly to account for the extra energy use to charge the electric vehicle—by including a battery backup or energy storage system large enough to charge the electric vehicle. That is if the homeowner intends to charge the vehicle at night for use the next morning for the drive to work.

A setback with the ideology of a solar energy system + electric vehicle pairing has long been the high cost of purchasing electric vehicles, coupled with the limitations of effective and efficient battery technology with enough storage capacity.

But this is changing.

It’s no secret that electric vehicle technology and a variety of models or brands available in the market today is overwhelming, more efficient, and affordable than about a decade ago. To make things even better, governments are shaping policy to make subsidies available for those buying electric vehicles.

Businesses now offer special discounts/promotions that when applied to the bottom line can really stretch that dollar.

So, are we going to see more solar energy + electric vehicle owners is the future?

Absolutely.

As more and more homeowners learn how much cheaper it is to operate and maintain electric vehicles over time, they become a lot more appealing.

Same goes for solar rooftop panels.

Derick Lila
Derick is a Clark University graduate—and Fulbright alumni with a Master's Degree in Environmental Science, and Policy. He has over a decade of solar industry research, marketing, and content strategy experience.

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