BMW i3 Driving to Net Zero Energy – Powered By Sunshine – Month 1 Update

JUL 1 2014 BY PEDER NORBY 19

The idea is a simple one, harvest endless sunshine from a small portion of the roof to provide 100% of the energy needed to power a home and two cars with zero utility cost, and zero gasoline cost.

The idea is a simple one, harvest endless sunshine from a small portion of the roof to provide 100% of the energy needed to power a home and two cars with zero utility cost, and zero gasoline cost.

Update Month One, Driving To Net Zero

The idea is a simple one, harvest endless sunshine from a small portion of the roof to provide 100% of the energy needed to power a home and two cars with zero utility cost, and zero gasoline cost.

    • First Month, -24 kwh, -$149.20 utility bill
    • Fast, fun and fibrously fantastic, our BMW i3’s.
    • ChargePoint supports “Driving to Net Zero”

*Editor’s Note: If you’ve missed the introduction article (along with a few followups) in this monthly “Driving To Net Zero” series, then you might want to check out these posts to get up to speed.

BMW i3 Driving to Net Zero Energy – Powered By Sunshine

One House – Two BMW i3s – Powered Solely By Sunshine

*Additionally, you can check out Peder’s blog by clicking here.

june sdge graph

 The credit is earned because we push energy at peak rates of $0.44  and pull energy at off peak and super off peak rates of $0.20 and $0.16

The credit is earned because we push energy at peak rates of $0.44
and pull energy at off peak and super off peak rates of $0.20 and $0.16

The current account balance is less than the remaining credits. 6/15/14 bill was a $149.20 credit added to the previous $28.82

The current account balance is less than the remaining credits.
6/15/14 bill was a $149.20 credit added to the previous $28.82

8.5kw Solar PV System installed in 2007. Paid off with energy and gasoline savings in April, 2012

8.5kw Solar PV System installed in 2007.
Paid off with energy and gasoline savings in April, 2012

We began our 12 month documented journey on May 15th, 2014 and we’re off to a really great start as you can see in our stats for the first month from May 15th to June 15th.

We are living in a historical time of great human advancement where:
(1.) Solar PV has become affordable.
(2.) Electric cars are affordable with plenty of choices.
(3.) Our homes, appliances, computers and gadgets are all more efficient, connected and smart.
(4.) You can choose to make your own transportation fuel on your roof, replacing gasoline.

Add these four ingredients, stir well, and you change the world of energy and transportation forever.  “A better future is made with a better recipe, not just more cooking.”

The first item to tackle in “Driving to Net Zero” is efficiency. It is far cheaper to save kilowatts than it is to make them. Energy efficiency in the home is a very well known prerequisite for savings. Just like the LED light bulb that is 1/7th the energy use of an incandescent light bulb, we now have cars that use 1/5th the energy of a typical new car to travel the same distance.

Our BMW i3s

Our BMW i3s

Our two BMW i3’s use 1/5 the energy of a typical car and they’re fun, fast and fibrously fantastic. The BMW i3 has a US leading EPA rating of 124 MPGe. They’re quick, nimble, toss-able and stoppable and simply amazing to drive, stitched together in a heretofore impossible combination of performance, luxury, safety and efficiency, being rewarded and acknowledged as the most efficient mass produced car on the planet.

In “Driving to Net Zero” an efficient home and the most efficient cars are required ingredients. The “most efficient” can also mean the most enjoyable, the most livable and the most premium to drive, as efficiency in our lives is additive, not punitive.

The second item on the loading order for ” Driving to Net Zero” is computational power, communications, and smart data. If we can measure it, we can improve it.

We know the terms smart grid and smart house. In the past few years our utilities have swapped out our “dumb meters” and installed “smart meters” as a precursor to the future. A future where our smart appliances will communicate with the energy grid under our direction and optimize the times when they operate saving the homeowner money. For electric cars, the vast majority of home charging stations are still “dumb chargers” in a smart house.

Why is this energy information important? Can you imagine not being able to see your bank account or credit card data? How would you know how to budget and spend/save your money? Energy is no different. When we can see our energy data, we can manage our energy, we can make informed decisions and we can save money.

An electric car driven typical miles in a year can use 50% of the electricity of a typical house. A household like ours, with two electric cars can use more electricity for the cars, than for the house. With that high of electricity use for the cars ( still about 1/5 the energy cost of gasoline) it’s very important to be able to see your overall usage and time of use with a data connected smart charging station.

We are thrilled that ChargePoint, the largest EV charging network with over 18,000 charging locations has chosen to partner with us in monitoring our “Driving to Net Zero” energy challenge.

Note the ChargePoint dual-head CT4000 charging station.  We love it!!!  Thanks ChargePoint

Note the ChargePoint dual-head CT4000 charging station. We love it!!! Thanks ChargePoint

ChargePoint is lending us a CT4000 dual head wall mounted charging station for 12 months. The newest tech from ChargePoint has two ports so we can charge the cars simultaneously. With ChargePoint’s data and analytics we can also track the exact energy usage and length that we’re plugged and measure things like greenhouse gases avoided. ChargePoint measures all those figures across their network as well – so far after 5 million sessions drivers have saved 4.5 million gallons of gas.

Screen Shot 2014-06-28 at 3.28.56 PM

GHG Savings

So we’re off! We look forward to updating you each month on our energy progress and overall driving experience on our journey “Driving to Net Zero. During this past month after announcing our “Driving to Net Zero” journey and challenge, we have heard from dozens of homeowners and EV drivers who are on the same path, eliminating their utility and gasoline bills, and discovering the beautiful combination of affordable solar PV and electric cars.

Our goal is to promote this way of living and way of driving as a “better recipe” for our planet as compared to burning fossil fuels in our power-plants and in the less efficient gasoline engines of cars. Thanks for reading and commenting.

We expect even better results next month.

Cheers
Peder

*Editor’s Note: Peder is the Chairman of the San Diego County Planning Commission. His wife Julie is Director of Curriculum and Instruction at the Solana Beach School District. They have been Felid Trial drivers for BMW for five years. Together since 2009, they have driven 95,000 EV miles powered from roof top solar.

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19 Comments on "BMW i3 Driving to Net Zero Energy – Powered By Sunshine – Month 1 Update"

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alainl007
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alainl007

Hi there,

Powered Solely By Sunshine.
Congratulations!!! I love it!!
I will do the same ASAP!! Thanks

Cheers

Mikael
Guest
Mikael

Not directly powered solely on sunshine. There will be quite a lot of fossil fuels to power that household.

It would have been more interesting seeing them go off the grid. See what it would take to actually solely power them by sunshine.

George B
Guest
George B

Fantastic! Congrats, Peder.

Kosh
Guest
Kosh

I think we should define some terms:

“Energy” = all energy used to run your household, including electricity, gas, etc.

“Net Zero Energy” = you produce all (or more) energy that you use.

“Net Zero Bill” = Because of TOU metering, you turn the meter backwards and wipe out your bill, even if you still use more power than you generate.

Peder – do you use NG or Propane for your water heater and stoves? Or are they all electric?

If you’re using gas, I don’t think you can really get to “Zero Net Energy”, unless you somehow counting excess power production (not leveraged $$ due to TOU) as an offset against your gas use?

Aaron
Guest
Aaron

Nice that you have TOU plans in San Diego. In Dallas, we have “free nights” (9pm-6am) or “free weekends”. All the other times you get charged around 18¢/kWh.

Peder
Guest
Peder

Hi Kosh,

Very nice on the terms.

Our goal is to be both net zero energy and we anticipate we will be well below zero on the cost or net zero bill as you say. The net zero energy will be the tougher of the two.

Yes we have a very small amount of NG use for our tankless water heater (as written about in our first post) we will update that usage and how it factors into our overall use on a quarterly basis and at the end of the challenge.

I think the overall point for most of us is get rid of the utility bill and gasoline bill for the home and cars.

Sunshine, and in a few years sunshine and storage, can do just that. We are at the start line, with solar getting cheaper battery densities and cycle life improving, and energy storage coming on quickly.

Cheers

Mikael
Guest
Mikael

I love to hear that. Too many people forget that you need to look at all energy, and during all periods of the year.

And too many confuse electricity and energy. Like the goal would be achieved just because the electricity part is done.
Even the most progressive industrialized countries still have 30-ish percent of fossil fuels left in total energy even though their electricity is close to 100% clean.

Jay Cole
Admin

The ‘nerd’ in me loves these updates/posts…thanks Peder

flmark
Guest
flmark
Peder (and Kosh), …following up on the comments I made from your post several weeks ago (about having 2 Volts and doing the same photon propelled driving). Yes, striving for net zero is an effort that goes beyond just PV + EV. You need to ask about ALL the fossil fuels and such that support the lifestyle and have an impact on this place we live in. Yes, we have removed all fossil fuels and use heat pumps for water and climate control. But look at that garage and look at that yard. In Florida, the only grass we have left is actually a high grade artificial turf and in NY, I use a reel (manual) mower for the approximately 2000 sq ft of grass we have left. All the stinky gas lawn tools are gone. I am even about to try out a new lithium powered outboard motor for my dinghy which I just purchased. About the only thing left is propane for the gas grill… Consider it a challenge…call it OCD…the more you look around, the more you see how we have contaminated our lives with the toxic stuff we get out of the ground. It’s just crazy.… Read more »
Peder
Guest
Peder

flmark,
I’m with you on the whole lawn thing as well. We harvest rainwater to make wine, not grass clippings, and grapes uses 1/3rd the water of lawns.
No lawnmower, manual or otherwise.
Now back to our program about Inside ev’s and what makes them go!!

flmark
Guest
flmark

Well shoot, that comment got me to go to your blog hoping to read more…(than just about bmw). We have 7500 gallons worth of cisterns, and harvesting rainwater (in quantity, not just for the vegetable garden) is very uncommon. You should expand on those other areas of zero impact. Your blog only briefly nuances the bigger picture of your motivation.

muchski
Guest
muchski

Great idea and great report.

Just noticed a few typos on the first table. It should be kWh not Kwh or kwh. Cheers! 🙂

Peder
Guest
Peder

Thanks Muchski,
Sometimes I am tempted to just spell out the words 🙂

zoe-driver
Guest
zoe-driver

Great report. Our familiy is doing this for a year now in Germany. We used 2548 kWh for 13556 Kilometers with out Renault ZOE. The PV generatet 9300 kWh. The special is that we CAN charge the ZOE 3-phase from 6,2kw up to 22kw @ home. So when charging durig sunshine (Home Office) I use 6,2kw and ZOE is full after 3 hours. If I need more speed, i switch to 9kw, 14kw or 22kw, with the drawback that just 7,5kw is delivered via PV.
Next year a 3-phase home battery is planned with 20 kWh capacity. Then charging during SUN can be supported / boosted or charging at night is possible.

zoe-driver
Guest
zoe-driver

If you can read German here is our story incl. some pictures of the 22kw fast charging wallbox. The cool thing is that Renault includes 1.100€ for a wallbox when you purchse a ZOE. My 22kw wallbox did cost 1380€ 🙂

http://www.lueneburg.de/Portaldata/1/Resources/stlg_dateien/stlg_dokumente/veranstaltungen/Oekohaus_E-Tankstelle_Fischer-Tangstedt_-_Oekohaeuser_-_schoener_Zuhause_wohnen_2013-14,_S._80_-_KB_900.pdf

Mark C
Guest
Mark C

Peder,

You’re the example I am making an effort to follow. Sadly, for now I do not own an EV. But the efficient home and 6810 rated watts of solar and a negative balance on the electric bill are priceless 🙂

Driving my Prius and saving for a decent down payment so when the 100+ mile range EV makes it, I’ll be prepared. Keep up the good work, I follow in great anticipation.

Solar Energy USA
Guest

Congratulations to you for your foresight! You are proving to the world, firsthand, that we do not need gasoline for transportation!

Drive on sunshine because you will save huge amounts of money and help clean up the air!

Peder
Guest
Peder

Thank you!

There is a story we need to tell about solar energy. The vast majority of Americans think that Solar PV is used to reduce or eliminate your utility bill. this is true.

We need to equally inform the public that Solar PV is also a transportation fuel that can end our dependency on oil, clean the air in our cities and increase personal wealth. Thus the underlying passion in my writing.
Solar PV is a transportation fuel.

Lindsay Patten
Guest
Lindsay Patten

Wow, California is serious about its time of use rates! Here in New Brunswick electricity is a flat 10cents/kWh, and gas is the equivalent of $5.10/US gallon. So economically electric cars are more attractive, and solar less so.