Electric Vehicles + Solar Power Make Thomas Edison Smile

Many energy experts agree that for electric vehicles [EVs] to make faster inroads into reducing the use of foreign oil for traditional gasoline powered cars, there needs to be an infrastructure that will allow for charging EVs while they are parked. Stations located near shopping centers, places of work, and well-traveled areas would be ideal. Imagine driving to work and plugging your EV in at a convenient parking spot, assured you can make it home easily that evening; but wouldn’t it be even way more energy cool to charge your EV using electricity from the sun?

At Dell’s headquarters in Round Rock, Texas, a new shaded 50 car solar parking structure called the Solar Grove can re-charge EVs. The structure was built by Envision Solar, and fully operational should help avoid about 145,000 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year. Check it out here and in the photo below.

Dell’s Parking Lot for Solar Charging of EVs

Dell’s Parking Lot for Solar Charging of EVs

Recently, Bethesda MD implemented a new solar charging station (see photo below), the sixth such facility now operational in Montgomery County. Able to charge two vehicles at a time, this 1,410-watt facility uses a sun-tracking solar array. The system is manufactured by Advanced Technology & Research Corp. (ATR). The charging station would allow drivers of electric vehicles to pull up, swipe a plastic card and plug in their vehicles to be charged. Rob Lundahl, vice president, automation systems for ATR, said an hour of charging will yield roughly 20 miles of travel time for most vehicles. The cost for the system, according to Lundahl, is in the $20,000 range.

Solar Charging Station In Bethesda, MD

Solar Charging Station In Bethesda, MD

Take a look below at what Honda is trying in three cities in Japan to premier its solar charging stations for EVs. The program isn’t just for electric vehicles, but also plug-in hybrid vehicles, electric scooters, and electric carts. Honda will monitor how effective the charging station is at generating electricity, and ways to improve the convenience and usability of the charging station for customers.

Honda Solar Charging Station in Japan

Honda Solar Charging Station in Japan

Of course, you also can install your own solar charging station on the roof of your house or garage and charge your car when the sun is out as well! What would Thomas Edison, famed EV pioneer and storage battery developer, have thought of this? Well, here is his famous early 1900s quote about alternate technologies – “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power. I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that. I wish I had more years left.”

That settles it!


EDITOR’S DEEP DIVE

Thomas Edison on Time Magazine

“The thing with which I lose patience most is the clock.  It’s hands move too fast.

Time ® is a registered trademark of Time Inc.

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Electric Vehicles … an Edison Legacy

Chevy Volt®; GM™

Resembling sleek driving machines, with catchy names, and touted as good for the environment, electric vehicles are coming into their own. They can run on advanced battery technology alone, with ranges of 70-100 miles; while some battery/gasoline hybrids can get over 60 miles to the gallon with their small internal combustion engine augmentation.

  • Will electric vehicles really put a dent in our national dependence on oil?
  • How soon can we expect them to begin appearing in great numbers?
  • If we need oil at an electric generating station to make the electricity to charge the batteries, are we really saving oil?
  • How much are you willing to pay for an EV?

Take this new technology a few steps further.  How long will the costly battery pack last before needing replacement? Is safety a potential issue for you with charging car batteries in your garage? Might EVs impact your automotive and home insurance costs?

Electric vehicle enthusiasts have a champion in Thomas Edison, who predicted 100 years ago, gasoline cars would eventually pollute the air and we would have trouble getting all the oil needed to run them. His famous and rugged nickel-iron storage batteries powered electric vehicles back then.

Ever the optimist, Edison did perfect his battery; which went on to become his most profitable product, finding application also in the marine, boating, and railroading industries, as well as the military. Edison showed us how to re-charge electric vehicles in our garages; and he also invented the modern electric utility system too, which provides the electricity to charge those electric vehicles.

Reminder from Harry: “Don’t forget to plug the car in before you close your door to the garage!”

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