Originally published on Gas2.
First of all, let’s qualify the term “solar cars” here. Many people may simply assume that a solar car is a car with solar panels on top of it. But let’s think about this: if an electric car is powered by solar panels, is it not a solar car as well? A gasoline-powered car is considered a “gas car” and a diesel-powered car is considered a “diesel car,” so I’d say that a solar-powered car is a solar car.
Anyhow, tangent over. The news is that Envision Solar International has just won a statewide contract from the State of California to provide EV ARC™ products to California state departments and other state and local agencies or entities. In an email sent my way, Envision Solar noted, “This means that many CA government workers and employees will now be able to charge their electric vehicles with sunlight at their workplaces!”
Governor Jerry Brown’s Dreams Coming True…
As you may have presumed right now, this all stems back to some strong solar and electric vehicle moves made by California Governor Jerry Brown. In 2013, Governor Brown and California joined 7 other states in setting a target of having 3.3 electric cars on the road by 2025, with California setting a target of 1.5 million. Last year, despite already accounting for about 40% of all US electric car sales, Governor Brown signed 6 bills supporting the adoption of electric vehicles in various ways. Items of support included “increasing the number state issued stickers allowing zero emission vehicles to use the state’s high occupancy or diamond lanes from 55,000 to 70,000,” requiring “commercial and residential property owners to approve charging stations on their properties as long as requirements are met,” and offering special electric car incentives to low-income California residents.
And jumping to April 2015, there’s also the clean energy aspect of all of this. California’s grid is already relatively clean compared to the rest of the US and the world, but it could be a lot greener. In April, Governor Brown “issued an executive order to reduce California GHGs by 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.” That means a lot more solar energy (and electric cars), among other things. “Brown plans to lower California GHGs by increasing the role of renewable energy to 50% by the same date. As Brown stated in his January inaugural address, he also aims reduce petroleum use in cars and trucks by up to 50%, double the efficiency of existing buildings, and make heating fuel use cleaner. ”
… Back To Solar Cars & Envision Solar
Envision Solar has been in the solar-powered EV charging space for a long time. I think “Foresight” must be its middle name. I’m happy to see it and CEO Desmond Wheatley getting rewarded for that.
“For Envision Solar, the contract means that it can ramp up operations in San Diego, expand its market to other state governments and hire more veterans and disabled workers,” Adrienne Hudson of Envision Solar wrote to me.
Regarding the specific solar electric car charging technology to be used, she added: “The EV ARC™ fits inside a single parking space and generates enough clean, solar electricity to power up to 150 miles of electric vehicle (EV) driving each day. It can charge up to three EVs simultaneously. Its installation requires no trenching, foundations, electrical work or construction of any kind.”
The solar EV charging system also uses solar tracking, EnvisionTrak™, to maximize its collection of solar rays and produce more electricity throughout the day — 18–25% more than a conventional solar panel array, in fact.
“California has about 40 percent of the United States’ EVs,” said Desmond Wheatley, CEO of Envision Solar. “Our EV ARC™ product is the perfect solution for a State that requires a scalable, sustainable and easily deployable EV charging infrastructure that does not require trenching or foundations and can be easily moved. We are thrilled to have won this contract and we are looking forward to growing our Californian work force to fulfill it.”
I imagine you noticed the comment above about who Envision Solar actually employees, but it’s worth some extra highlighting, in my humble opinion. Envision Solar is intent on hiring veterans, disabled people, and minorities. Not just in a small percentage, but across the board. How many companies do that?
Solar Cars Are The Future
Whether via Envision Solar’s EV ARC or Solar Tree or something else, the future of energy production is solar energy and the future of the car market is electricity, and the future is being produced as we speak.
Solar power prices have dropped off a cliff in the past few years, battery prices have been falling at a good rate, and there are too many consumer benefits to electric cars and solar energy for them to not take over their respective markets.
Record-low solar power prices keep getting hit. Within the past year or so, we’ve seen solar power price bids and PPAs under 5 cents/kWh in Austin, Texas (presumably about 8 cents/kWh unsubsidized), then 5.84 cents/kWh in Dubai, UAE, then under 4 cents/kWh in Austin, Texas (under 5.71 cents/kWh unsubsidized), and then starting at 3.87 cents/kWh in Nevada.
On the transportation side, we’ve seen the Tesla Model S named “car of the century” by Car & Driver, named a “Top 10 American Car” by Motor Trend, designated the most-loved car by owners via Consumer Reports surveys (with owners that are more loyal to Tesla than owners of any other car are loyal to their makers), rated the best car ever reviewed by Consumer Reports itself (2 years in a row receiving a rating of 99/100), and become the quickest mass-market car in history (by far). There are many reasons electric cars are better than gasmobiles, but the big ones that I think will drive the electric car revolution are that they are much more convenient and offer a much better driving experience, whether your aim is to have as much fun while accelerating as possible or to simply get onto the highway or into a roundabout with less stress.
The future is solar. The future is electric cars. The future is solar cars.
All images by Envision Solar