SolarCharge - Feature image design

In this article

SolarCharge - Feature image design

The transportation sector is rapidly evolving, with EVs leading the charge towards a cleaner, more sustainable future.

For EV owners, home charging stations have made the experience even more convenient. However, for those who have solar panels, an exciting possibility emerges. By connecting solar panels to their home chargers, users can cut down costs and ensure their vehicle is powered by renewable energy.

This crucial integration not only benefits drivers but also presents an invaluable opportunity for hardware manufacturers. Ensuring that charging points seamlessly integrate with solar panels could be the differentiating factor that sets a brand apart.

In this blog post, we’re going to dive into the world of solar power and its usage for EV charging. We will also introduce Monta’s new feature that simplifies the use of solar panels with charging points. Whether you’re a driver or a manufacturer, join us on this journey towards a greener future.

A dramatic shift towards sustainable energy and electric mobility

Over the past decade, electric vehicles have experienced a remarkable surge in adoption, revolutionising transportation and reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. In Europe alone, electric vehicle sales have skyrocketed, with a projected increase of 25% in 2023. This growing trend toward electric vehicles aligns with the European Union’s goal of deploying 30 million zero-emission vehicles by 2030. As consumers increasingly embrace both electric vehicles and hybrid models, there is a pressing need for sustainable solutions to meet the rising electricity demand.

Solar energy, with its numerous advantages, emerges as a key player in addressing this challenge. The coupling of solar panels and electric cars signifies a shift towards self-reliance and a more sustainable future. An electric car paired with a solar charging system is more efficient, cost-effective, and eco-friendly than conventional gas cars. Charging your EV with solar power massively reduces your electricity bill and carbon footprint, contributing to the global efforts against climate change.

Challenges when charging at home

While the shift towards electric mobility brings about numerous benefits, it also presents challenges, particularly when it comes to charging EVs at home. Most households rely on the electric grid, which can be costly and may not always meet the increasing electricity demand alone. As a result, EV owners face higher electricity bills and potential strain on the electricity grid and infrastructure.

However, this is where solar panels come into play as a sustainable solution. By installing solar panels, homeowners can generate their own electricity and reduce dependence on the grid. Not only does this help cut costs, but it also promotes energy independence and resilience. Furthermore, excess solar energy can be utilised to charge EVs, providing additional savings and reducing reliance on traditional energy sources.

Solar panels: An efficient solution to electric vehicle charging at home

The rising popularity of solar panels has paved the way for a revolutionary approach to electric vehicle charging at home. By tapping into the sun’s energy, homeowners can charge their EVs using clean and renewable power, offering numerous benefits.

The soaring popularity of solar panels

Solar power has become increasingly appealing due to its abundance and cost-effectiveness. Unlike fossil fuels, solar energy is available worldwide in vast quantities and comes at no cost. It’s no surprise that global solar capacity doubled between 2018 and 2022, reaching a staggering one Terawatt (TW). Projections indicate that by 2025, global solar capacity will soar to 2.3 TW, equivalent to twice the energy production of France and Germany combined. This exponential growth can be attributed to individuals and households installing small-scale solar panels on their roofs, aiming to achieve energy independence, reduce costs, and minimise their carbon footprints.

Empowering homes with solar panels and EV charging

As the demand for EV charging rises, it is crucial to find sustainable and cost-effective solutions. Solar panels have emerged as a game-changer. In 2022 alone, solar and wind power contributed 22% to Europe’s energy consumption, more than double the previous year. This surge was largely driven by the urgent need to address the climate emergency and the increasing competitiveness of renewable energies.

By combining excess solar energy from their solar panels with electric vehicles, homeowners can unlock significant cost savings while gaining greater control over their energy usage. Much like turning on their household lights, homeowners can utilise the surplus energy generated by solar panels to charge their EVs. In situations where the solar energy produced is insufficient for both household needs and EV charging, additional power can be drawn from the grid. This flexible setup grants households the freedom to allocate the solar panel system exclusively for EV charging or to power their homes as well. By harnessing the sun’s power, homeowners not only reduce their dependence on the grid but also contribute to a greener and more sustainable future.

The equation: Daily driving and solar energy

A typical European EV requires around 8 kWh of electricity for daily driving, which is roughly equivalent to the output of a 2 kW solar panel system. This makes solar panels a viable solution for homeowners looking to charge their EVs at home and cover a daily travel distance of approximately 50 km.

Calculating solar PV systems for home-based EV charging

In Europe, a home equipped with a 6-panel solar PV system covering about 9m2 could generate approximately 2,100 kWh of electricity per year. When charging an EV such as the Tesla Model 3 Standard Range, which requires about 50 kWh for a full charge, this solar system could provide sufficient power for roughly 42 full EV charges per year. This results in an estimated annual driving range of approximately 17,766 km. Remember, that values are approximate and actual results will vary based on numerous factors.

The benefits of using solar panels for home EV charging

By harnessing the power of the sun, homeowners can not only reduce their carbon footprint but also enjoy significant cost savings and enhanced convenience. There are many benefits to using solar panels for home EV charging, and if done right, homeowners can optimise their solar investment and save money while transitioning towards a fully renewable future.

Embracing clean energy

With home solar charging, the EV battery runs on clean, renewable energy, significantly reducing driving emissions. This sustainable method minimises greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to the global fight against climate change. By charging the car battery with solar panels, homeowners utilise 100% renewable energy sources, thereby saving money and making their EV operations entirely CO2-neutral.

A cost-effective approach

EV charging with solar panels allows for substantial savings on energy costs by depending less on the grid. The upfront investment in solar panels pays off over time, leading to greater energy independence and lower energy expenses. While homeowners transition to this greener economy, any surplus solar power generated can even be sold back to the grid in certain jurisdictions, further emphasising the financial viability and environmental friendliness of charging EVs with solar panels at home.

Optimising the solar investment

The excess energy generated from solar panels can be utilised by using it for EV charging. This optimisation makes the most of a homeowner’s investment in solar technology, and the substantial cost savings from charging EVs with solar panels at home.

Transitioning to a fully renewable future

The power generated from home solar panels can ensure that EVs run solely on clean, renewable energy. This is a major step towards contributing to a more sustainable future. By using sunlight to power their home and charge their electric vehicles, homeowners free themselves from the price volatility of grid electricity or gas prices. The decreasing costs and increasing efficiency of solar technology make charging EVs with solar panels at home a particularly attractive proposition.

How it works: Solar panel EV charging

Solar panels absorb sunlight and convert it into direct current (DC) energy. This DC energy is then converted into alternating current (AC) energy by a solar inverter, enabling it to power a users’ home and appliances. If their setup includes battery storage, homeowners can store any excess energy for later use. This not only optimises their use of generated electricity but also allows for surplus energy distribution to the grid.

How EV charging with solar power works

What you need to charge your EV with solar energy:

  • Solar panels: An average electric car requires around 8kWh of electricity to recharge after driving 50 km per day. To meet this need, homeowners would need approximately 2kW of solar panels, which equates to around six individual solar panels.
  • Solar inverter: Solar panels generate DC energy, but home appliances and EVs need AC energy. A solar inverter fulfils this need by converting DC energy into usable AC energy.
  • Battery storage (optional): Battery storage can hold any excess energy the panels generate. This energy can be used when the solar panels aren’t generating electricity, like at night, or distributed back to the grid.
  • Smart EV charging station (optional): While not necessary, a smart electric vehicle charging station can help manage the charging process, optimising the use of solar-generated electricity and reducing grid electricity usage.

Key challenges in solar EV charging

While it might seem ideal, solar EV charging hasn’t been straightforward. Until recently, solely charging from solar energy required specific sensors and software. As a result, optimising solar use, achieving a return on investment, and managing excess energy in an efficient manner have been difficult tasks.

Technological hurdles

Most EV chargers lack the necessary tech to measure solar output accurately. This means an EV might still draw power from the grid, even if it’s a sunny day, slowing the return on the solar investment.

Slow return on investment

Solar panels are a significant investment. If the system isn’t optimised to primarily use excess solar power for EV charging, the breakeven point could extend several years, delaying the return on investment.

Excess energy management

Without an efficient storage solution, managing excess energy produced by solar panels can be challenging. While selling it back to the grid is an option, it’s often not as profitable as one might hope.

Monta’s solution to solar EV charging at home

Solar EV charging is a fantastic way for home users to offset carbon emissions and lower energy costs. However, as discussed above, there can be technical challenges and inefficiencies that prevent them from maximising their investment.

We at Monta, as part of our commitment to renewable energy, are developing a solution that will streamline the process of using solar energy for charging electric vehicles: Virtual SolarCharge.

Virtual SolarCharge uses machine learning and weather forecasts to predict the output of any brand or type of solar panel, providing an optimised EV charging schedule. Although it doesn’t monitor household electricity usage, it estimates solar production and, in conjunction with real-time weather data, ensures an EV charges primarily using excess solar power. This optimises renewable energy usage and decreases charging costs.

What does Virtual SolarCharge bring to home EV charging?

  • Free charging: Home users enjoy cost-free EV charging, regardless of their home’s wiring setup. As long as their charge point is compatible with Monta’s solar charging, they can harness the power of their solar panels and reduce home charging costs substantially.
  • Easy setup: The Virtual SolarCharge feature requires no complex hardware integration or extensive setup times. Users can set up SolarCharging in a matter of minutes and start reaping the benefits of green energy immediately.
  • Green energy maximisation: By syncing the sun’s supply curve with their charging demand, Virtual SolarCharge ensures home users charge their EVs with 100% green energy. They’ll maximise the renewable energy used, reducing their carbon footprint, and helping create a more sustainable future.

At Monta, we’re dedicated to advancing sustainable energy use. Our select group of beta users currently using Virtual SolarCharge are helping us prepare for our launch in the coming months – stay tuned for the launch of Virtual SolarCharge in your region in the Monta app.

Monta

Monta is the operating platform powering the EV ecosystem serving drivers, companies, cities, and the electricity grid with one integrated software solution.