Zero Carbon Transportation: The Solar Charge

Electric vehicles are a more efficient way to use resources than gas vehicles, right?  Right.  Compare the drill-to-mile numbers of virtually any method of generating electricity to driving on gasoline and you’ll be amazed at how much more efficient the electric vehicle is at using the energy in fossil fuels.  The “…electricity has to come from somewhere, and your electric vehicle really runs on oil and coal.” argument is a common fallacy, and it’s easily refuted.

There are a few other angles to this issue, the strongest one is the fact that your power doesn’t come from one single fuel source.  Even now you’re getting electricity from wind, water, coal, oil, nuclear and natural gas, and it’s only going to get better.

Don’t forget solar.  And solar is where it gets interesting.

Imagine powering your transportation with power you generate yourself, with absolutely no consumption of fossil, or any other fuel…  forget about the complexity of the grid, rates, all that.  It’s simply plugging in your charger to a small solar panel and letting the sun do it’s stuff.

It’s as simple as that.

Solar panels are getting very affordable, and really simple to install.  Take a look at this product from Northern Tool: a 60W Sunforce panel and converter kit for $500.  Plug and play.

60W is enough to give you a slow charge on modest batteries.  If you’re a weekend rider it will have your bike ready for that Saturday blast around “the loop”, and it is enough to top off the pack during your workday if you’re a commuter.  It’s not free power, but it’s definitely zero-carbon transportation.

Now, it can be that simple, or you can do something a little more elaborate, like my buddy Ed.  See this thread: Solar power for fun (and profit? ) Charging up your EV .   He has three motorcycles in that shed, as well as an electric car.  All of them are charged with his shed.  He makes enough electricity to power part of his house. Shed envy indeed.

Everything else aside, the idea of blasting around on your commute, burning up your favorite twisty road or running to the store for beer…  powered by the sun?  Independent of global events, the whims of the market, cascading issues of social responsibility?  How can you beat that feeling?

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