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Driving on Sunshine: The Growing Trend of Powering Electric Vehicles with Solar Energy

by Anna

In an effort to combat climate change and reduce their environmental footprint, a growing number of electric vehicle (EV) owners are turning to solar energy to power their clean and green rides. Jim Selgo, a retiree living in Goodyear, Arizona, exemplifies this trend, having installed rooftop solar shortly after moving to his new home. Selgo’s positive experience with solar led him to take further action by purchasing an electric vehicle, resulting in significant savings and a reduced carbon footprint.

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Selgo’s story is not unique, as the synergy between solar energy and electric vehicles gains popularity. According to the U.S. Energy Department, of the 131 million households in the U.S., approximately 4.5 million have embraced rooftop solar. This trend aligns with the record-breaking sale of over 1 million electric vehicles in the U.S. in 2023.

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While EVs offer a cleaner transportation option, the electricity used to charge them often comes from fossil fuels, offsetting some environmental benefits. Rooftop solar helps address this issue by providing clean electricity for both homes and electric vehicles. The combination of solar panels and energy storage systems allows homeowners to generate and store their electricity, creating an eco-friendly power source for EV charging.

The crossover interest between solar and EVs has caught the attention of automakers, with several companies exploring opportunities to connect customers with energy services, including solar installations. General Motors’ energy unit, GM Energy, exemplifies this trend, aiming to offer a comprehensive solution for customers seeking at-home charging, solar power, and other energy management technologies.

While this trend is gaining momentum, not all EV owners have equal access to rooftop solar. Approximately half of U.S. households either lack control over their roofs or find them unsuitable for solar installations due to location, space, or orientation constraints. Efforts are underway to address this issue through community solar projects, allowing a broader range of individuals to participate in solar energy generation.

Despite potential barriers, the decreasing cost of solar installations and federal incentives are making rooftop solar more accessible. The Inflation Reduction Act, signed into law by President Joe Biden in August 2022, enables consumers to claim a 30% credit on their federal tax bill for residential solar systems. Additionally, different states offer various rebates and incentives, further promoting the affordability of solar solutions.

As the combination of solar energy and electric vehicles gains traction, it represents a positive step toward a more sustainable and environmentally friendly future. Homeowners like Jim Selgo and Jerry Schotz showcase the potential of driving on sunshine, contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and fostering a cleaner energy landscape.

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