Gas Stations To Die Out In Favor Of Solar Charging Stations


Solar PV Array

Solar PV Array

SolarCity at Union Bridge, MD

SolarCity at Union Bridge, MD

“Petrol stations could vanish in the near future as drivers start plugging their cars into their homes, a scientist has forecast.”

That’s per a Telegraph report in which Keith Barnham, emeritus Professor of Physics at Imperial College, is quoted throughout.

As Barnham states:

“Could we have an electric car powered entirely by sunlight? Yes we could.

“A typical system will generate enough electricity for typical mileage in a year.

“Free fuel for life from your rooftop. Even the most fervent opponents of electric cars like Jeremy Clarkson couldn’t argue with that.”

Solar Farm

Solar Farm

“We need to spread the word that we have got the technology already, we just need to use it.”

According to the Telegraph, future solar panels will be three times as efficient as compared to what’s commonly in use today.  Furthermore, advances in the technology will mean that “solar panels” can be fitted into windows or made as blinds.  In other words, in the future solar panels won’t be restricted to roof mounts.

Barnham spoke of the solar situation in Germany, stating:

“Solar panels have reduced the wholesale price of German electricity. There is a puzzle here, a mystery. How come the price has fallen but in 2011 they were only producing three per cent of the overall energy?”

“It’s because the (solar panel energy) comes at exactly the right time you want it. Energy use peaks at midday when there is the most sunlight. It is the same in Britain.”

“That is the time when demand is high so traditional power is at its most expensive.”

So, is solar the answer moving forward?  It seems so.

Source: Telegraph

Categories: Charging

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143 Comments on "Gas Stations To Die Out In Favor Of Solar Charging Stations"

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why does everyone say free charging/fuel with solar?

SMART fuel is more like it.

No fuel is oxidized to create solar energy, or from it’s derivative; wind energy.

The energy is simply harvested to be used or stored. Unlike fuels, there’s no need to process or refine a fuel to make energy, as solar and wind are already a pure form of energy.

my point is that there are still costs associated with it such as panels, inverters, wire, labor, etc… It really isn’t free from a monetary standpoint which is how people look at it.

I am not sure I agree that future panels will be 3 times as efficient as those currently available. That would require a panel that is nearly 100% efficient across the entire spectrum of light.

Nevertheless, I am surprised that the “driving for free” idea is not more widely recognized. Given that an average person would use only about 9 to 10 kWh a day to travel 12,000 miles a year, this can be achieved with about a 6 or 7 panel system in many areas.

Well solar panels are hardly free are they? It’s not free if you have to pay for something to get it.

It would depend on what is being multiplied by 3. I don’t know what figures are being used.

Here’s an interesting chart of efficiencies. Looks like some are up to 44.7%

Look at hybrid uptake. Only 3% of the population can be bothered to do the math.

I hope the learned professor does not intend driving his solar powered car in winter in either Germany or the UK, or he will be SOL as you need the power at the time, not next summer.

If solar in northern Europe is such a brilliant idea, how come electricity rates in Germany are so enormously high, and much cheaper in the UK with way less solar?

That is not a knock against solar as such, for instance I comment here that the new perovskite solar cells may open the door to around 150GWe of solar in the US using existing rooftops:

Solar works best where it is sunny.
Who would have guessed?
Not the professor, it seems.

Simple, DaveMart; you just need a way to store all that excess solar energy produced last summer. If only we had a way to store large amounts of energy. Perhaps in some kind of high-density energy carrier?

You seem to be talking out of both sides of your mouth here, because in previous stories you have defended hydrogen as a viable means to do just that – store excess electricity production (in caverns, for example). Rather than persistent negative comments, why not try the positive spin for once?

What is being discussed here is plainly solar electric stations, not any sort of hydrogen hybrid.

I try to take each idea on its merits, and evaluate them whether or not it is the option I prefer, which I very clearly say would be nuclear mainly, with topping solar in suitable latitudes.

However if you are going to use renewables, then you have to store them to make them even potentially work.

In my view the economics would be absurd, but at the latitude of Germany and the UK if it were insisted that nuclear should be used then presumably some sort of combination of solar, wind and hydrogen storage would be used.

None of that has got much to do with this notion of solar gas stations, using cells which are not direct to hydrogen.

Sounds to me like you are letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. Solar can indeed offset a lot of traditional energy sources at almost any location on the earth. Some are clearly better than others, and that last 10% is far harder than the first. But we’re not at 10% solar on a global scale yet – we’re still in the easiest 10% to achieve (the first).

There have also been studies that show that 100% renewable is possible with diversity of energy source and location. Internationally connected grids already make this possible.

As for nuclear, that is off topic for this article. I do agree that many are overreacting to a few events, but the fact is that nuclear is very difficult for political reasons in many nations, particularly the US.

What I am arguing is that regardless of what solar may be capable of further south, this talk of solar powered gas station replacements without the slightest mention of hydrogen intermediation or anything else at 50 degrees north is quite clearly nonsense.

As I said I try to take every case on its merits, and this linked article in the Telegraph does not have any.

solar on the other hand has very short lead time between planning and is very cheap and no one minds it being situated in the backyards.

The article is about siting them in the UK and Germany, not somewhere that is sunnier.

As such, and considering that on a bad day in the winter there you get maybe 3% of rated output, or a huge 30watts from a panel rated at 1kw, the article is nonsense.

Germany met 31% of it’s energy needs last month with Solar. So, a northern climate may need additional panels installed, never the less even in Winter, it’s a viable solution to transportation fuel.

The fact that the SouthWest US is generating Solar for 5 cents per kWh, and it’s not being rapidly implemented is a problem, clearly, of a political nature.

First of all electricity and total energy are two different things. On a yearly basis they get about 6% of the electricity from solar and somewhere around 1% of the total energy.

Second, they were nowhere close to 31% electricity from solar in July 2014. They produced just over 4 TWh from solar out of about 40 TWh in total during the last month, that is 10-11%.

During the top week this year they produced 1,26 GWh from solar, during the worst week it was 0,08 TWh. That is a difference of the magnitude of 16 times between best and worst of the year.
To make it even worse the low week was in the month of highest need and vice versa.

Viable during the winter? I don’t think you understand the word viable if you think so. 🙂

“Though the day is short, PV power production is still peaking at an impressive level during the current cold spell in Germany. Source: EEX”



What Mikael said!
You saved me some typing and put it more cogently.
I am British, not German of course which means that I don’t have the same familiarity with their figures.

The same lunatics are also intent on installing solar in Aberdeen, however, which makes Hamburg look positively equatorial, and which gets way less winter sun.

Hmm.. I can’t reply to kdawg, but it is directed toward you.

What you showed was useless, it’s still less than 1/10 of what is produced during the summer.
I don’t even know how to respond to it since it’s so ridiculous.
It’s true that Germany have been exporting coal based electricity to France during the winter but to somehow try to connect that with the solar is like having a big fireplace warming up your house and the neighbors house while you stand in a corner with a single match burning and saying “look it’s hot in here, my match is burning”, implying that that single match had anything to do with it.

I think DaveMart and Mikael are spot on. PVs have some excellent applications but can’t be considered ubiquitous, especially in northern latitudes with extensive cloud cover.

The professor is incorrect, peak electrical load does not coincide with peak solar insolation. Due to mass effects peak electrical load is typically later in the afternoon. Typical work schedules play here as well.

It is a damn shame that utilities take a distributed resource like solar and continue to try to force it into a central station design. The thermal electric plants in the SW us are literally killing a bird about ever 2 minutes. And yet they want to expand the plants.

We’re going to need the next generation of nukes to make EVs and FCs work at scale. Hopefully with liquid fluoride thorium reactors.

How many birds die in an oil spill?

I think there are solutions to keeping the birds away as well. Like keeping the bugs away that that they eat first.

“no one minds it being situated in the backyards”

No and No. We need to be of one mind on this. Solar cells are beautiful, and belong on every roof, FRONT AND BACK. The local city governments that have come out with laws restricting their use as visible to the street (I’ll mention no names cough *LOS GATOS, CA*) need to be slapped with a fish.

People used to think asphalt shingles were ugly. Now they are everywhere.

Get used to it, get over it.

Nuclear energy is very expensive and has a large lead time between planning and actual production. The large lead times ensures that there are huge cost overruns. Also no one wants nuclear to be put on thier own backyards. Local opposition further delays the production. After fukushima many countries like india have introduced liability laws that either puts the fear of god amongst the bidders or further increases the costs. The final end result is that if we want to cover a shortfall of 1 GW with nuclear by the time the plant comes on line the shortfall has already risen to 5 GWs.

India is in fact going full steam ahead with nuclear, but the article is not about that which I only mentioned in passing as my preference.

Germany and the UK are simply not sunny enough in the winter to let this make any kind of sense.

We’ll end up just like Germany, towing the green party line while buying nuclear generated electricity from outside the country.

“Solar works best where it is sunny.
Who would have guessed?
Not the professor, it seems.”

I guess someone should tell all those plants & trees that grow all over the planet. And they are pulling it off with only 2% efficiency.

They don’t grow all over the planet.
There is no growth at all at very high latitudes, and way below that plants shut down as far as possible during the winter to conserve energy.

If you were feeling observant you may have noticed in northerly latitudes the leaves turning brown and falling off.

They do that because they have given up on photosynthesis for the winter as a bad job.

“There is no growth at all at very high latitudes, and way below that plants shut down as far as possible during the winter to conserve energy.”

Two things that photocells do not care about.

Germany gets 1/10 the electricity of solar during the lowest winter month compared to the best summer month.
And they get that electricity when they need it the least, electricity need is higher in the winter than the summer there.
They would need to cover 1000% of their needs with solar to get covered even in winter.

Solar is great, but it should be judged on what it produces during the winter months in northern countries. And it should be placed where it actually do a lot of good, like most of the world except northern countries like germany. 😉

Wind power on the other hand has the same production tops and lows as the German electricity needs top and lows.

So with solar panel prices dropping, sounds like you just put up 10X the solar panels. There’s a lot of flat space on this planet.

Now you must be just trolling? So they should first add 10 times as much to be able to cover 100% of the need of the top month and then 15 times that to be able to cover 100% of the winter months, for all solar.

That would be 150 times as much as they have today.
If they would give that order to Solar City and their planned Giga factory it would take them 5500 years to produce that.

If you would have given that order to the egyptian that build the Cheops pyramide then they would only have to work on it for another millennium.

No, they get 50% now (electricity) w/current coverage. If they want the same 50% in the winter, they would 10x the coverage. Or 10x the efficiency. Or a combination of the two.
You do realize that 1 out of 10 buildings in Germany does not have solar right? You make it sound like at 10x the solar panels is crazy. Let’s not forget parking lots, or just open land. And it doesn’t have to happen in 1 order to Solar City overnight. It’s a process. Will take decades.

Those plants and trees don’t grow much during the winter in the northern parts of the world, then they just try to survive and wait until the summer when they will grow again.

If only humans could power down and basically not use any energy during the winter too…

In your plant theory you forgot that CO2 is just plant food anyway… 😉

Photocells do not have to worry about survival and they have orders of magnitude better efficiency.

So how much are magnitudes of basically nothing? Oh… still almost nothing.

It’s not that the solar energy from the sun hitting the planet is “nothing”, it’s just that the energy output of our cells are much less. This is a technology problem. Solar tracking and more efficient cells will help. Along w/quantity.

Here’s an interesting picture (probably too big for this webpage, so you’ll have to go to the link).

Hi Dave

I live in northern Germany.
My home PV produces 9500 kwh per year.

So why should that make no sense ?

I reduce my dependency by producing my own enery. Sure i can not be 100% independent but 80% is no Problem.

This is no chat it is measured, real live experience.

Lot of people do not want people be independent. Ask yourself why.

Regards from sunny Germany

Btw in Winter we produce so much Wind Energy that people are happy getting rid of “Too much Wind Energy” esp. Over night.

I charge ZOE in Winter over Night with cheap wind energy.

Heating is the same story.

Both are pushed by own PV energy to reduce grid dependency.

Producing most of that during the summer months and then getting coal power during the winter isn’t really a good solution.

Your total number produced is irrelevant. Solar in Germany only adds to the coal addiction.

The statistics say the exact opposite. Black coal is the power source Most Reduced because of solar.

So how much energy do you generate in the month of December?

It is not the annual average which counts, as to do what this article claims and power cars by solar without using hydrogen and so on it is power in the winter which counts.

I pass over the fact that Germany has 30% higher carbon emissions per person than the European average, and uses supposed ‘back up’ from Russian gas and filthy lignite for the majority of its power, and to enable the vastly expensive renewables whose expense means that hundreds of thousands or German’s have their power cut off every year to pay for this folly, as it is not directly germane to the argument.

So how much power are you getting from your panels in December?

Hi Dave

I am happy that you are interested in these things.
In December i have an average of 400 kwh. With my high efficient heat pump i generate 1800 kwh of heating.
This is enough for a 10 year old house. Here we have good isolation.

So even in December i can generate enough enery for heating. Is that cool or what ?

My Zoe needs in Winter 250 kwh per Month, so i need to purchase that by renewables like wind. My house needs 200 kwh so this is purchased externally as well.

But this is just December.

The year has more months. From feb to nov i do not need any external energy. This comes from oversizing the PV.

And there is still place for 6 kwp on the carport and some 8 kwp on the main roof.

Dave, I agree it us actually not easily possible to be 100 % independent. Especially not in December. But I can be 80% independent. Now. I do it. I reduce my demand dramatically. And I do it in Northern Germany.

You said PV in Germany does not make sense.
That is definetly wrong as you can see.

Great Zoe Driver.. World needs people like you. I am in India so situation will be little bit different in next yr December when i will buy my electric car as well. Theoretically i should be 100 % solar powered

Thank you.

Btw my sons name is Kiran. And you know what that means 🙂

Electric demand in northern climates is lower in Winter as well. No AC to use.

Here’s an interesting article. The Southern US States getting ROBBED Blind.

Sorry, that was Southern US stages with highest usage.
North-Eastern US states getting Robbed Blind.

I think you need to look into the statistics of electricity use in some northern countries and climates before making such a false clame. In most northern countries electricity use is at it’s highest during the winter.
It’s about heating, lights and staying in door, which a strong winter climate will force upon you in a greater number.

You know, wind is not solar. Those two things are different.
And where solar is not so good wind can still be very good. We know that wind works and have the same production patterna (a happy face 😉 ) as the demand pattern (also a happy face 😛 ) unlike solar which has the pattern of a very sad face (low in the beginning and end of the year and high in the middle of the year) in UK/Germany/northern countries.

Wind is also massively variable, and can have calms lasting over a week in the depths of winter, when turbines are actually a net energy drain as they need power to de-ice them. That happened in two out of the last three winters. The fossil fuel industry loves all these methods of building fossil fuel use in for decades. Off shore wind turbines are rated to last 20 years against 60-80 years for new nuclear, at a similar cost for the first years until the turbines need replacing and until the nuclear plant is amortised after perhaps 30 years after which the power is the cheapest there is save for amortised hydro. That is not counting the cost of all the back up needed for an utterly unreliable resource. I am actually acquainted with the guy who arranged the financing for the very large on-shore wind array at Finisterre, who remarks that since on-shore wind is rated at 9 years before major refurbishiment, and that is dependent on very prompt maintenance, impossible in an off-shore gale, he can’t conceive of where they have got the notion that they are going to last 20 years there, in that much tougher environment,… Read more »
You should take a look at what Steve Garvey is doing at Nottingham university. He has created wind turbines to produce compressed air instead of electricity. The compressed air can then be stored in large bags under water at dept where the pressurization is given by the surrounding water. The air is stockpiled from the wind air generators according to the wind, which is variable, so the bags swell or empty more or less. The swelling is also dependant on the variations in demand of compressed air from the electric generator which is run by the compressed air from the bags. The electricity production is according to the instant demand of the electrical net. This system can thus store energy in mass because the dept of the bags can be several hundred meters and the volume can be huge. It certainly is able to cover daily variation, week variations and even seasonal variations. The energy that can be stored is just huge. Of course you can improve on this by heat boosting by burning stored biogas with the compressed air. The biogas being stored in a conventional underground storage. As a complement of course you also store biomass like wood… Read more »

Correction: Seamus Garvey not Steve.

Interesting. Thanks.

So a sad face is good western countries use most of there electricity in the summertime and we drive more too.

The reason why German electricity prices are high is because of tax. Quote from BBC:
“…almost a third of a Berliner’s electricity bill comprises energy taxes. The equivalent figure for the UK is currently 9%.”
Another interesting fact is a high cost of electricity in Poland which is the most coal dependent country in Europe and this price does not include billions which Polish coal got in subsidies over the last 2 decades.

There is a huge disconnect between the title and the subject of this article. Rooftop solar can certainly displace a significant amount of energy, but it certainly cannot replace gas stations.

Gas stations don’t need to be replaced… they would just go away. With home fueling, they are not needed. If you want, you could say DCFCs replaced them, but a lot less of them would be required since everyone essentially would have a “gas station” at home.

Ah, but there’s the rub. Gas stations will not go away unless we have a robust QC network. This has nothing to do with solar powered charging at home. Yes, cars today like the Leaf and the Volt can dramatically reduce ones need for gasoline, but as soon as you take a trip of any real distance, you need to either put gas in your Volt or take a gasser instead of your Leaf. Unless, of course, you are one of the few lucky ones to live near a robust QC network.

Tesla may change that, too, with long-range EVs and again a robust QC network. This still has nothing to do with solar charging at home.

It will take a long time until they are 100% gone. But the numbers are dropping fast already, not because of solar or EV’s but mainly because of more efficient cars.

Especially in cities the numbers will drop fast. There will no need to have them there if you only use gas for longer trips.

Sorry, but a QC network is a very small part of the equation – only needed for long distance travel. For the vast majority of miles/kilometers, home charging is the answer.

I agree and disagree. I can only offset about half of the miles I drive in a year without QC. While I may be in the minority, let’s not forget that those trips, while less frequent, are by definition longer distance. Therefore they still account for a larger percentage of miles. And we aren’t talking about a reduction in the number of gas stations, we are talking about the death of an industry. Huge difference.

I think it will be a slow death. Home charging removes the need for most local gas stations. QC removes the need for most long range driving.

What is your driving scenario where you are regularly putting on more than 250 miles/day w/out parking for some time?

Simple – I live in a city that is about 250 miles from where I grew up. We travel 250 miles each way on average 1-2x per month so that my kids can know their grandparents, aunts/uncles, and cousins. Crazy, I know.

We put about 10k miles/year on both the Leaf and the Insight.

I would agree that you are in the minority. And that SeattleTeslaGuy’s point is valid. With DCQC’s and home charging.. the gas stations become irrelevant. Home charging will be the bulk of the majority of drivers “fueling”, with an occasional need for a DCQC.

And hopefully those last existing gas stations will have all renewable fuels anyway, even if they won’t totally die out.

Here we have 15% renewables of the total fuel for all road transport. So with more efficient cars and PHEVs/BEVs that can cover 70-80% of the miles on electricity the transport sector will be basically fossil free.

It is possible and in a relatively short time frame too. 🙂

The whole renewables movement in Germany has put the electricity market on its head as far as I can tell.

In the US (especially in Ca) people live in a bubble about the wonders of renewables……… but not the utilities.

In fact, the market is so screwed up in Germany and the UK are looking at instituting “Capacity Payments” to the struggling utilites.

These “Capacity payments” would be payed to the utility companies for letting the plants just sit there idle. Waiting to back up the renewables when the wind quits and the sun goes down.

I don’t propose to understand this situation completely, but things just are not as rosy as many think.

I’m sure Fox News could explain it to us, LOL.

I think you would agree George that we need a base-supply of energy (preferably nuclear) and supplement power (solar). Hopefully someone cracks a net-positive fusion reaction, and people get back on the nuclear bandwagon.

My crystal ball also sees more distributed power. That way a squirrel in Canada can’t take out the whole East coast’s grid.

It’s not so much about a base supply as it is about storage.

Stop forgetting wind.

The way you just described the situation sounds fairly rosy to me.

Capacity payments is a concept I have a hard time understanding.

Here is another weird solution to the intermittency/storage problem being talked about for Germany.

Co-gen units in your basement.

That sounds good too. We all have an internal combustion engine in the basement.

You guys should go away and read about what is happening in Germany.

When you totally understand it then maybe you could explain it to me.

I dont know much at all about it, I was just responding to what you (George S) wrote. I will try to find time to study it but switching from one source to another is going to take time and a learning curve.

Dean Kamen’s Deka has treated a basement co-gen that will sit in your basement. But it burns as clean as your gas fired furnace or water heater – acts as both actually. And produces electricity. It uses an external combustion engine (a Stirling).

They will be distributed by NRG in 2016.

Here’s a map showing how much average solar energy hits the planet. To power my car, I use approximately 8kWh/day or 2920kWh/year. In Michigan (which is not a sunny state) just 1 square meter provides ~1500kWh/year. Assume 50% efficiency in the future, that means with just 4 square meters, I could power my car from home solar.

Averages are fine as long as you don’t plan to drive your car in the winter or store the energy, for instance as hydrogen, which you have been rather against.

Nothing wrong w/storing energy. I don’t like storing it in hydrogen.

Then show me something else which can do it in the quantities needed.

Discussion of energy storage options on many places in this site:

Elon is working on it.

The Gigafactory is supposed to put out 35 GWh of batteries yearly.

Germany produces about 1,5 TWh per day.

That means that they would need 43 years production of all the batteries that comes out from the Gigafactory to be able to store one days worth of electricity.

Tell me again how you’re going to store solar in Germany to use during the winter?

Storing huge amounts of electricity is not easy….

Here in india….every house has a unscheduled blackout lasting about 4 to five hours. An average household has an inverter system and two lead acid batteries that ensures that 5 bulbs five fans and a tv can run on energy stored from batteries. The inverter charges the battery when the electricity is on. We can easily displace the charging from the grid to charging from sunshine…. such a setup requires only around ₹ 40000 which is equivalent in cost to an average sized lcd tv. But unfortunately when it comes to solar people become blind to reality..even the companies have done a poor job at marketing such kits.

Pumped storage hydro.

Already the cheapest means of storage per watt.

Already the most widely deployed,

Already constitutes the largest amount of new capacity being built.

And yet it gets very little press. Perhaps because it is just not that sexy, like battery or fuel cell storage?

Yes indeed and if you really don’t have any hills perhaps you can make an underwater air storage which stores as much energy as the deplaced water times dept. If you have access to the sea, size can be huge and the dept is the limit. Mariana trench anybody?

Lovely map. It really shows the great potential of solar (in the right place). Basically it’s a great idea if you’re in 40 degrees south to 40 degress north.

And generally a bad idea and not a sustainable large scale solution further north or south.

“It really shows the great potential of solar (in the right place)”

So basically 95% of the planet.

Exactly… And to parafrase Jay-Z “I’ve got 99 great places (for solar) but Germany ain’t one of them”… 😉

In any place where aircons are running for most parts of the year it’s just idiotic to not have lots of solar.

Germany seems to disagree w/your opinion.

“In any place where aircons are running for most parts of the year it’s just idiotic to not have lots of solar.”
^^ this statement doesn’t make sense to me? Air conditioners are typically run year round in sunny/warm parts of the planet.

It will never work. Just as my buddy in NY state. 🙂

I love that sort of thing. (and I’m not being sarcastic)

Looks like he is still hooked to the grid though. You can see his electric meter in the photo.

All I’m saying is this is not a sustainable model from the utilities point of view.

If I were his utility I would would slap a “capacity charge” on his monthly bill………in other words, a charge for having the utility just sit there and wait to provide backup when he needs it.

Getting on soapbox…. I was doing fine, until I got to the “capacity charge” statement. I understand he needs to pay “something” to help support the grid, but this is just like the states that lower gas taxes, then tax hybrids – Pay for mileage on roads directly, not trying to push road taxes onto a variety of fuel sources. If your not getting $$ to cover your costs, the business model is broken, not the fact that someone doesn’t use a lot of power. Don’t discourage efficiency, and reward consumption – make actual costs transparent, and get payment for transmission and distribution (T&D) infrastructure. So rather than a “capacity fee” – how about we just break power bills into 2 parts – T&D and generation (which most power companies are broken along those lines anyways) – EVERYONE that’s grid connected has to pay a T&D fee – you could even justify it being rated on your distance to the nearest pole, transformer size whatever – Every folks with netmeeting need to pay this “connection fee” just like everyone else, unless they are totally offgrid – Then just charge a generation fee based on what it costs to actually produce… Read more »

A capacity charge is well justified in many places where a certain capacity is needed to keep the lights on when it’s needed the most.

In some places it’s not justified and it is just utilities trying to make as much money as they have always been doing before. It very much depends on where you are and what the energy demand and production looks like throughout the year.

It’s not about punishing solar, it’s about having everone pay their fair share of the capacity needed.

In the many souther states in the US, solar panels covering a 4 car garage + energy storage, could provide enough power for the daily commute for more than one car, along with powering the house. While selling back the excess to the power company.

This would also work in some of the less sunny states, because in the winter when there may be less sunshine, the consumer would just be buying back some of the power sold to the power company in the spring/summer.

Then as more large parking lots become large solar arrays like the Ford project, with inductive charging, vehicles would be able to charge for free while parked, lowering the amount of charge needed from home.

Then add the rooftop charging on cars presented on the C-MAX Energi solar vehicle, and the car will continue to charge whenever it’s exposed to the sun, driving or parked.

Unless there is a planned long road trip, buying an EV with the right size battery/range, should never ‘require’ charging from your home charging station.

This is insane. There is a phrase for people who propose things like this. “Innumerate” – they don’t understand numbers. Before anyone writes an article like that, they should spend at least 5 minutes with a calculator to see if it makes sense. I will illustrate: Let’s say this solar “gas station” will fill up about 200 long-range EV’s a day, for 150 miles range each, at 4 miles/kWh. That is 7,500 kWh/day. 1 KW of PV can generate about 6 kWh of energy per day on an optimal solar day. That means that this modest EV filling station will require at least 1,250 KW of PV to meet its needs. That’s not including the required energy storage to balance the instantaneous PV generated vs. the charge kW required. That’s not including cloudy days, winter, etc. PV panels have a theoretical efficiency limit of about 35% and peak solar insolation is 1000 watts/square meter, so the panel surface area will be at least 3,571 square meters, or about 35,000 square feet (almost an acre!) – IF we can make PV panels that are at their theoretical perfect efficiency and the Balance-of-System devices are all 100% efficient (which they aren’t and… Read more »

edit – my rant regarded a a commercial solar charge station, not a home charge station. I got up way too early and suffered a bit of caffeine-deficient “illiteracy” myself! Never mind.

Your rant is fully justified.

Have a look at your figures and see how much would be needed for charging at the latitude of, say, London, as he is claiming that this can be done in the UK and Germany:

At 0.5kwh per square metre per day that is quite an area needed.

It is a good job that the population density in the UK and northern Germany is so low, or this might verge on the impractical.

This guy is bartering his academic credentials for publicity and perhaps grants from innumerates and ideologues.

NB the insolation of 0.5kwh per sq metres per day is for December.
Sorry I forgot to specify that.

You’re negating energy storage.

According to pvwatts solar radiation at Gatwick is 0.97 kWh/m^2/day in December, 1.45 in January, 1.61 in November, and 3.06 average over the year.

I agree with the skeptics in the summer you could run all your electronics on solar. In the winter you will need to choose between driving or air conditioning.

Some days in northern Germany and in the UK you get less than 3% of rated output – and I am being generous.

You will be lucky to continue running a few low energy lightbulbs in the house, certainly not your heating, let alone your car.

Davemart sounds to me like you drive one of the great american muscle cars in southern california, and you get pissed off every time you get passed up by a prius driving in the hov lane. First of all respect. Now there are a few things you have to experience. A 1000nd miles of highway between Denver and Chicago with absolutely no traffic. A corn field that stretches from Nebraska to Pennsylvania. A prius stuck in the snow, and the wind in January funneled between the skyscrapers in the Chicago loop. Do that and you will never again ask stupid
questions like” how are they going to power houses and vehicles in the winter”

DaveMart knows the answer to that “stupid question”. The answer is coal, coal and more coal.
It’s a rhetorical question which is supposed to get the reader of his post to actually stop and think for a short moment.
Since it didn’t work on you I guess he needs to spell it out for you next time. 🙂

“You will be lucky to continue running a few low energy lightbulbs in the house, certainly not your heating”.

Yet Zoe Driver just explained how he is running his heating in Northern Germany in the winter.. TODAY, (not the future). Now think about further efficiency gains, solar tracking, and cheaper prices, Dave’s statement makes even less sense.

Air conditioning during the winter?

That is in the Arizonan district of Germany…..;-)

Sometimes in really humid rainy cold climates, the windows will fog up in the winter due to the humidity. I’ve found running the A/C for a little bit with the temp. set to 80+ degrees helps quickly de-humidify the air and clear the windows. It blows warm, de-humidified air into the car, clearing the windows.

I’m guessing some folks in Germany might run into the same thing.

What about siting some solar power arrays (or at least placing some DCQC) near a freeway? The primary business is power generation but with a modest DCQC investment can also refuel EVs.

I think the thrust of this argument is that you will want to build solar energy producers either home or larger commercial units in sunny areas that use lots of electricity, near metropolises. That seems clear enough.
I think he chose Germany because it is the most solar power pusher in the world. So if solar power works in Germany then it should work well in most of the rest of the world.

Sure in the dead of winter you will produce less energy from solar, then you just pull it off the grid. In the summer months when you produce an excess of power you sell it back to the utility. So it averages out. I think getting all irate about it is a bit silly, since it’s agreed that Germany is not really a poster child for optimum solar.

That is not what the article is arguing.
They are talking about solar charging full stop,

If the professor had wanted to qualify it enough to preserve some shred of respect, he should have done so.

Your offset in any case means lets burn lots of fossil fuels and pretend we run on solar at the latitude of Germany and the UK, as the load on the grid in the day in the summer is minimal, and all solar achieves is to ruin the economics of sensible power sources.

The vast majority of power will in that system be from fossil fuels, as it is in winter that demand is high, as is the reality in Germany right now.

Anything possible switches from electricity to Russian gas, due to the huge costs renewables that far north impose on the grid, and especially poor people playing for the middle classes useless solar arrays.

The problem arises with scale. When you have one home in 100 doing what you describe, no big deal. What happens when you have 20? Still pretty easy. Now what about 90? 100? Completely impractical!

The good news is, we are still less than 10% worldwide, so we are still grasping at low-hanging fruit.

The bad new is, it will take a lot more than rooftop solar and home charging EVs to get us off of gasoline completely.

I think the article is misleading. We need to think about this in terms of contribution and shifting, not replacing. Home solar can contribute to the “grid” or be consumed locally. As battery prices come down, home storage will make more sense. But there will always be cases where a home will be a net consumer. The arguments about northern latitude winter solar energy production ignore the net benefit. People are decrying the “average” argument. But what they don’t get that even if coal is used to fill in the winter deficit, it is still less coal (or what ever hydrocarbon is used) than otherwise. That is a net good. Will we ever get to a zero carbon footprint civilization? Not even in our grandchildren’s lifetime but the struggle is still worth it.

By the way, capacity payments make sense simply because in a future where every house has both generation and storage capacity, the grid becomes a backstop lifeline. Someone needs to pay for that. Whether it’s through taxes or direct payments, it has to be funded.

It is not less fossil fuels than would otherwise be the case, as it simply builds in fossil fuel use for decades and diverts attention from nuclear which can really do the job.

That is rated at the cheapest low carbon source by the UK government.

Whatever may be the case at lower latitudes, at 50 degrees north solar is an unmitigated nuisance with negative net worth.

We are many countries that are striving toward a fossil free world. Some of us plan on being basically fossil free within the next 15 years.

The net gain you are talking about is very small, short term and only works while the levels of fossil fuels are still extremely high, like in Germany or the US.
It just hurts to see them waste money on something that will not be part of their long term solution and knowing that they money would have been so much better spent on other types of renewables, nuclear, energy efficiency in the transport sector etc.

They have been polluting large parts of Europe with their dirty coal for too long. It’s time for it to stop.

I don’t know why you keep harping on Germany. They have half the per-capita carbon emissions of the US and are about midfield in Europe despite having the highest industrial output. They also have one of the highest shares of renewables (including wind, solar, hydro and biomass) in electricity production among industrialized countries (31% in the first half of 2014).

Regarding nuclear fission, we have to get rid of that too. Nuclear waste disposal is still an unsolved problem, and a single major incident can be catastrophic for a densely populated country like Germany. Remember that event that triggered the German “Atomausstieg”?

The reason we harp on Germany is that they are the leading role model when it comes to relying on renewables for 80% of their electricity.

and their CO2 emissions have increased since finding the mantra.

because they have replaced nuclear plants with coal plants

Seems to me that these are two different decisions that many are falsely associating.

Germany decided to REDUCE/ELIMINATE nuclear. This almost certainly caused an increase in CO2 emissions as they fell back on fossil fuels.

Germany decided to INCREASE renewables. It is unclear to me whether this has actually created a further reliance on fossil fuels, as some posters (most notably DaveMart) have argued.

Unfortunately, by making both of these changes at the same, it is nearly impossible to conclusively assign any resulting increase in emissions to the latter decision.

Here is the trend on panel costs:

Its fairly idiotic to assume a 3 times improvement in solar cell output. The cost, however, certainly can fall to 1/3 of today, and I would argue that is all that matters.

Not that many people own their own home or have access to land to place solar cells. Expecting power companies to suddenly become solar power producers implies they become land owners, which may mean that even if the panels were given away free it would still cost them to get into the solar power business.

What is the future? Simple to extrapolate. Silicon instead of asphalt or wood shingles for roofing material. Past that, storage, transmission, wind, natural gas and even nuclear. Ie., there is no ultimate solution.

The surfaces covered for now are tiny in comparison with what is still available. Actually a clever major would not put a tax on solar panels but would put a tax on roofs not equipped with solar panels.

It won’t be solar charging stations but solar homes. And yes, the number of gas stations is apparently starting to drop.

Spec9 said:

“It won’t be solar charging stations but solar homes. And yes, the number of gas stations is apparently starting to drop.”

From the Daily Mail U.K.

n 1970 there were 37,539 petrol stations in the UK but by 2012 the number had fallen dramatically by 75 per cent to 8,677.

Read more:
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

And in the U.S.

“Say goodbye to the good old American gas station.” says The Daily Beast

“According to the trade publication National Petroleum News, the station count—which includes public fueling stations, marinas, convenience stores, gas stations, and hypermarkets that sell gas (e.g., Costco)—was 156,065 at the end of 2012, down 1,328, or about 1 percent, from 2011. That marked the seventh consecutive year of decline. Since 2002, the station count has fallen by nearly14,000, or about 8 percent.”

Good Luck to you, Spec9

“Onward, through the fog”

I again saw little response to water storage as the efficiency leader. IS that the case or are there (severly) conflicting views on that as well. As mentioned, getting solar in the US and using that storage method seems like an efficient plan if/until nuke can recover again.

I think batteries might be slightly more efficient than pumped storage, but they are too expensive.

Yes, and by at least an order of magnitude.

I’m guessing that when he talks about improvement in efficiency he is using the efficiency of typical commercial panels now being installed on residential rooftops as his baseline rather than the much higher efficiency found in research labs.

No gas stations? Where will people get their cigarettes, lotto tickets, and half-gallon cups of soda?


That is where gas stations make all their money. Honestly, they make almost nothing on the gasoline.

Profit margins on sodas are insane. There are a few cents worth of syrup in a cup of soda that makes it a Coke or a Pepsi. Everything else you pay for is soda water and branding.

I stopped drinking soda’s in the 1980’s when I was involved in competitive sports when we were forced by our coach to cut out soft drinks. (Interestingly, he never said a thing about beer.) I’ve thanked that Coach ever since…

strangely enough Mark up, yes, profit margins not so much – by branding I presume you mean marketing, and That’s where all the money goes.
Stupid, but ask Coke what happened to their market share when they cut back on advertising a couple times in their history. Or simpler, see what 7-up’s market share rose to in the days of the ‘UnCola’ advertising flood, compared with today.

REAL Profit Margin is in Lotto tickets, ROFL.
$100 in, $10 paid out, good, sound guv’m’t business proposal.

No lung cancer, no gambling addiction, no diabetis, what an horrible world that will be!

And bad coffee, rude clerks, idiots who have a $75 limit on pumping gas (so you can’t fill up a pickup), incredibly dirty bathrooms with condoms and needles on the floor, etc.

No, the gas station is not going away. After the %10 that remain realize that installing a DCFC is a good idea, it will stabilize.

Apparently, if you want good coffee, you need to go to the airport (oh and bring your gun).

“Steinmetz told police he was at the airport to get coffee and had no other business there”

Dave Mart cannot add or subtract. Add up all the energy that has NOT been produced since Fukishima, then compare that to an average German winter.

Fukishima is “Never Coming Back” and will most likely be a perpetual nuclear wasteland forever.

The winter snow can be dusted off German solar panels, but the radiation from Fukishima cannot be brushed away.

Fukishima is just another nuclear wasteland like Chernobyl.

Spec9 said:

“It won’t be solar charging stations but solar homes. And yes, the number of gas stations is apparently starting to drop.”

From the Daily Mail U.K.

n 1970 there were 37,539 petrol stations in the UK but by 2012 the number had fallen dramatically by 75 per cent to 8,677.

Read more:
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

And in the U.S.

“Say goodbye to the good old American gas station.” says The Daily Beast

“According to the trade publication National Petroleum News, the station count—which includes public fueling stations, marinas, convenience stores, gas stations, and hypermarkets that sell gas (e.g., Costco)—was 156,065 at the end of 2012, down 1,328, or about 1 percent, from 2011. That marked the seventh consecutive year of decline. Since 2002, the station count has fallen by nearly14,000, or about 8 percent.”

Good Luck to you, Spec9

“Onward, through the fog”

Short list of obsolete things:
Video Tape
Vinyl sound storage
Mechanical telephones
Edison bulbs
Paper invoices
Film cameras
NiCad batteries
70% of my gasoline use.

The list is lacking one of the worst thing some people still use, fuel based home heater, be it gas or oil, it can now all be replaced by one of these: passive housing, solar collectors or heat pumps. Conventional heaters are still responsible for the biggest part of CO2 production in an average household. It is the number one item to quit even before a petrol car.

Btw a electric car is ideal for storing renewables via smart grid.

And ress systems ( renewable energy storage systems ) mandatory in every home will give a huge virtual battery.

We have that already running. You can participste in a large virtual ress system and earn money with that. This is no science fiction it is ( german ) reality.

Scaling that up makes large energy companies obsolete. Energy in the long run will be almost for free. This us the goal and no one can stop this.

On a 20 year persoective i would not invest in shell etc.

Seems that some are stuck on economic fundamental that have conducted us at 2007 crisis.
Any affordable renewable source is welcome and solar is one of the most affordable.
Our dependency on oil is also a dependency on cheap energy and above anything, the source of many treath to human existance.
So we have to produce energy whithout any pollutant and we have to use less.
This is the beauty of an electric car.
It does more with less.
But we have a long way to go for most of the thing we do.
Nuclear is a dead end for me.
Plutonium are not infinite on hearth, neither safe in use or after and leave all in for weapons
Don’t know if the solar station will replace the gaz station, but It seems very possible and at least a noble objective.

I meant Uranium for reactor, but Pluotnium is also a scarce one.