Electric vehicles could save the utility business model–and make solar worthwhile

Electric vehicles have suddenly become a matter of huge interest for energy utilities in Australia, because it seen as a way of ensuring continuing demand for generators and networks, and for soaking up excess output from rooftop solar systems.

This is good news for the solar industry. If the adoption of EVs is accelerated in Australia, that could lead to an increase in the deployment of rooftop solar as well. Solar could offer relatively cheap, emissions free EV-charging at home, and if EV charging becomes part of the retailer offerings for home energy use, then solar would likely not be seen as a threat to incumbent business models.

AGL believes EVs can reduce emissions even on Australia’s current electricity generation mix, which relies heavily on coal. But the cleaner the generation, the cleaner the EV.

A prominent, Brisbane-based solar company has just installed Australia’s first dual-axis tracker solar array for EV charing on South Australia’s Kangaroo Island. The installation is located at the island’s airport and has been coupled with three electric cars and six electric charging stations.

The installation will significantly reduce fuel costs for the council, which has to import its petrol and diesel by boat.

The $500,000 project employs four trackers, that follow the sun over the day, increasing the output of the Trina Solar modules installed. The four trackers have a capacity of 50kW and a 14kW roof mounted array was installed to Kangaroo Island’s council chambers as a part of the project.

One of the Nissan Leafs will be used by the council as a fleet vehicle with the other two being made available for emissions-free rental driving from the local Budget car rental branch.

Top image: Nissan Leaf, via NissanUSA.com

© 2014 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Giles Parkinson