Solar Power and Plug-in Vehicles like Butter on Bread

Synergy is often referred to as the interaction of several elements, which if combined is able to generate a superior effect to what might have been achieved with the elements standing alone.

Actual studies of synergy were recently showcased by the National Electrical Contractors Association throughout its expo and annual convention at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas. Electrical contracting executives from across the country discussed the most recent developments in relation to electric based products, while also spending time on exploring potential new markets for their businesses.

One program in place, showcased by the Electrical Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee of Southern Nevada, related to the education courses which are designed to assist local electricians. A feature of these programs is to instruct on the wind turbine and solar energy technologies, as well as electric supply technologies for the plug-in vehicles. On show was a Chevrolet Volt which was presented as the stands centerpiece.

Throughout an apprenticeship teaching program, in-class tuition is combined with paid on-site training, which is fully supervised by a qualified electrician. This is able to guarantee the abilities of an installer while also ensuring the trainee acquires the right real-world experience in solving all-types of problems.

In such places as Southern Nevada, where the sun might shine for 300+ days per year, it is certainly possible for local residents to benefit from synergy by installing roof-based solar panel systems and also to run an electric powered car. Due to the high volume of sun, it is possible for a high percentage of residents to self generate power for home appliances, while also giving sufficient fuel to run an electric or plug-in vehicle.

The combined potential of electric vehicles and solar energy cells is already in operation and available to use by the general public within three local authority facilities in Las Vegas: the Stupak Community Center, the Las Vegas City Hall’s parking garage, and the Clark County Government Center parking lot. If an owner of the Chevy Volt, the Ed Bozarth Chevrolet facility situated in NW Las Vegas, offers a solar cell array which consists of six stations, which are used to recharge the fleet of Chevrolet Volts on the premises. This is a service also offered free of charge to customers.

Costs to purchase solar energy panels have significantly dropped in recent times, most notably in the last two years due to the increase in competition coming from China. While this has resulted in companies going out of business in the US, it has benefited the end consumer who is seeing a sizeable decrease in the hardware costs for these systems, which at present stands at approx $0.84 cents per watt.

A full residential solar energy array system, including the necessary electric power conditioning system, peripheral hardware and installation, amounts to a low $4.00 per watt. In comparison, just a year back the price would have been $5.00 per watt and two years back the price would have been $6.00 per installed watt.

If well-installed a 2.5 kW solar energy array has the potential to produce up to 4000 kW hours per year. The study by NV Energy was based on a rooftop installation fixed in a south facing direction. A solar cell array which is grid-tied can offer the extra benefit of storing excess energy, which can be bought back by the utility company. As a result, a property owner would receive a monthly credit on their electricity bill.

Total cost for the installation at $4.00 per watt amounts to $10000. However, a domestic property owner is often entitled to federal tax credits, which might reduce the cost by 30%, bringing the total cost down to $7000.

An electric plug-in vehicle is able to travel for up to 4 miles per kW-hour. If able to refuel via a rooftop energy station, which is able to generate 4000 kW-hours each year, means a plug-in vehicle has the potential to travel some 12000 miles each year on just renewable sunlight energy.

Also, federal tax credits apply to plug-in electric vehicles which might go as high as $7500, although this will depend on the capability of the installed battery pack. If a typical homeowner spends on average $1500 on gasoline, an installed photovoltaic cell array has the potential to fully pay back the installation cost within less than 5-years, while also offering free fuel for the plug-in vehicle for a further 20 years or more, which is a typical lifespan of the solar array systems.

On the final day of the convention, Peter Dimandis, who is CEO of the X Prize Foundation, presented a keynote speech. Mr. Dimandis is also the author of the book called “Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think” which allures to the latest advances in technology based synergies. In 2004, the initial Ansair X Prize was given to Mojave Aerospace Ventures, with the prize totaling $10-million. The research team created SpaceShipOne, which is a rocket place, and this was launched several times within a week from White Knight, which is its mothership. Each journey witnessed SpaceShipOne traveling some 64-miles in sub orbital space, after which it returned to base at the Mojave spaceport in California.