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01 Jan 2021

How to charge your car with renewable energy

Lynn
By Lynn
  • Read time: 3 minutes

It appears a relatively straightforward question, but there are a few interesting answers. Let’s examine some options available for electric car owners who are looking for somewhere to charge up. Generally speaking, it is best to charge up near or at the location you stay at the longest. For most of us, this means home, then work, then other places you visit, but let’s look at it in some more depth.

Why choose an electric car?

First, let’s think about why you chose an electric car. They are better for the environment and they are now more efficient than their petrol and diesel ran competitors. Their acceleration is faster, and they have hardly any internal moving parts. Because of this, their noise and wear and tear is drastically reduced (meaning fewer maintenance fees).

Those are all significant benefits, but it’s really the running costs which will save you a fortune. GoUltraLow stated that compared to petrol cars, electric vehicles can decrease cost from between a third and 90%. In fact, many renewable energy suppliers are giving charging away completely free in exchange for taking some of their standby battery power.

If you’re ready to make the switch to renewable fuels, you’ll be keen to know how to charge it.

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Plug directly into renewables

Electric car owners may well be asking, “Can I charge my car with solar energy?” The most straight-forward answer is yes. You can plug your car directly into a wind turbine or solar panel. Sheffield and Reading both boast fully integrated EV charging, solar PV and storage. Despite this, as it’s usually more convenient, it’s likely most of your charging will be done at home. Solar panels form a great combination with electronic vehicles. That’s because people with solar panels are trying to make the most out of their renewable energy, but they find it difficult to use all of it when it’s sunny. EV charges is a great way to store all that built up energy.

Charging at home

For the vast majority of electric car owners will do most of their charging at home. While it is possible to charge your car up with a regular three pinned supply cable, it’s recommended to use a dedicated charging point. They will be installed by a professional and be safer, more practical and effective than a regular cable. To help you save energy, Tesla has released a new Powerwall, which can function with or without solar power. It will help you store power at home as back-up power, off-grid use and time of use load shifting. All designed to save your time and money.

tesla

Set up a Green Tariff

Driving on solar energy might be ideal, but solar panels won’t be suitable for every home, so we suggest getting a green tariff as your next viable option. Unfortunately, it’s not quite as simple as the National Grid pulling levels and pushing buttons to transmit renewable energy in your direction. Instead, they will match your energy needs with a comparable quantity they have either generated or bought in renewable sources.

The more popular green tariffs become with customers, the bigger the incentive for businesses to investment becomes. Green tariffs are great, but you still need to make sure you are using your energy effectively, reducing your waste and need for fossil fuels by being clever regarding when you use your energy.

Use green energy forecast to time your charging

The third choice you have is to schedule charging for the greenest time on the electrical grid. Known as ‘carbon intensity’ the ‘greenness’ of the grid goes up and down during the day. This is because of more energy coming from weather sources – such as solar and wind – and a smaller amount coming from fossil fuels.

windfarm

A tool, developed by the National Grid, Environmental Defence Fund Europe and WWF, can digest weather and energy data and informing users how dirty or green their energy source will be for up to two days in the future. They have also produced a web-based widget showing you the most efficient times to switch your electrical appliances on and off for the following 24 hours.

These tools help smooth out the peaks in usage and give the power grid some rest bite. It also makes your vehicle less likely to need the reserve of fossil fuel it is carrying, a win-win situation for both climate change and energy security. The new systems could save drivers money as well if they choose a time-of-use tariff. This is where the price you pay depends on the demand for fuel at the time you charge up. There aren’t a huge amount of these currently available, but they are expected to surge in popularity in the coming years, along with electric cars, smart meters and smart home energy systems.

There is even the possibility of getting a bit of money returned to you, if you use the ‘vehicle-to-grid’ function and allow some battery charge to go back to the supplier during high-carbon demand periods.

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Lynn

Written by Lynn

Writes blogs about EV charging and climate solutions for 50five.