Can I generate my own electricity for my electric car?
If you have, or are thinking about purchasing an electric car thanks to their green credentials, you might be disappointed by the fact that the electric grid they are charged from still relies significantly on fossil fuels.
True, the use of renewables - including wind and solar power - is on the up, with the grid becoming greener each year. But for some this isn’t enough, especially with growing concerns over the future of the environment.
Luckily, it turns out you can power your electric vehicle with electricity made at home, either through solar or wind power. Read on to find out how.
Install solar panels and a charger
The easiest way to power your electric car at home is to install solar panels on the roof of your house. The more panels you have, the more electricity you’ll be able to generate during sunny days and weeks.
Current estimates in the UK suggest a small 1kW system can generate 850kWh of electricity a year, enough to fully charge an electric car - such as the forthcoming Honda e - nearly 24 times over. This equates to more than 3,000 miles of driving a year, which is perfect if you're an occasional road user and still very useful if you're out and about more regularly.
Increase the size or quantity of your solar panels, and you’ll generate more power and even more driving range.
It’s important to note that solar panels cannot store energy. So your electric car can only be charged by the panels when its sunny. To store energy from the panels, you will have to invest in a home battery system, like the Tesla Powerwall, or Nissan’s xStorage. These are lithium-ion battery systems that can store energy generated by solar or other means for use later on.
However, the power you generate won’t be wasted, as it’ll flow back into the national grid - and you’ll be paid for it too.
That said, the whole system isn’t cheap, even after you've taken government tariffs and subsidies into account.
Install a wind turbine
This is a much less commonly used option, and rarely seen in the UK, but it is possible. Much like solar power, wind power can be used to power your home and your electric car. Wind turbines make sense, too, given that 40% of the wind energy in Europe flows through the UK.
If your house is situated in the right area, a home turbine can bring in big savings, but it’s vital you speak to your local authority as you may need planning permission. Wind turbines also benefit from the same Feed-in-Tariffs that apply to solar panels – for every kilowatt-hour of energy generated by either solar or wind, your energy supplier pays you back a certain amount.
Much like solar panels, though, wind energy cannot be stored by the turbine. To do so, you will have to purchase a separate home battery system.