Clean energy has been breaking records for the past few years, and it doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon. According to market insights provided by the Solar Energy Industries Association in partnership with Wood Mackenzie, solar PV accounted for 43% of all new electricity-generating capacity additions through Q3 2020. Similarly, electric vehicles (EVs) have experienced record growth in 2020, registering a 43% increase despite a slump in overall auto sales. Even during a global pandemic, these industries have shown incredible resiliency as the demand for greener solutions continues to surge.

Perhaps one reason why these numbers are so similar is that solar energy and electric vehicles go hand-in-hand. Simply put, solar power can keep the engine running. Charging an EV with solar is not only a cleaner solution, but it can also be much more economical. This is especially true if the home has SunPower’s highly efficient solar panels. SunPower’s solar panels are known to generate more power in less space when compared to conventional panels. With solar power, a home can produce its own energy instead of fully relying on the electrical grid. This can lead to serious savings when a monthly utility bill comes around.

For times when power isn’t directly available from the sun, homeowners with SunPower’s SunVault™ storage solution can use their solar battery to pick up the slack. With its intelligent software, SunVault offers homeowners various options on how to use their excess energy. This includes storing it, using it during peak demand hours, or tapping into it during power outages. It’s a great solution when homeowners rely on their electricity to power up important assets, including the family vehicle. During an online appointment, one of the questions our SunPower solar consultants often ask is if the homeowner has an electric vehicle. This helps our team factor in the right number of solar panels needed to power up the home and the EV.

So, how much power can a homeowner expect to use on a monthly basis to keep their EV up and running? Instead of calculating miles per gallon, EV owners need to use a different formula to determine their costs. A common unit of measurement is kilowatt-hours per 100 miles. Typically, to figure out the cost of an EV’s consumption, drivers multiply their vehicle’s kWh/100 miles by the cost of electricity during the time of day the car is usually charged. This will help factor in any added demand charges or fees that the utility company may throw in during certain times of the day. For example, many electric models get about 25 kWh per 100 miles. The national average per kilowatt-hour is 13.3 cents. While this number varies state by state, a good reference can be found on the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s site. Multiplying 25 kWh per 100 miles by the national average of 13.3 cents gives you an average cost of about $0.03 per mile. That’s a pretty attractive number! As you can see from these calculations, the majority of homeowners will discover that electric vehicles are typically much more environmentally friendly and cost-effective over time than their fuel-based counterparts, especially if they run on solar power.

The decision to use solar energy to power electric vehicles isn’t a purely residential trend. Auto dealerships are finding value in keeping a fleet of EVs charged and ready to test drive. As the adoption of electric vehicles continues to grow, more dealerships will need to find ways to shave off the electric load that having the cars onsite will bring with them. There’s no doubt that highly efficient solar and storage solutions can take on the job.

Popular automotive manufacturers are ramping up their production of electric vehicle models within the next few years. Toyota plans to launch 60 new hybrid, electric, or fuel-cell vehicles within that timeframe, and BMW expects sales of its hybrid and EVs to account for 15–25% of its global sales. With this growth and demand, more homeowners and dealerships will be looking for ways to support their incoming electric vehicles in the most economical way possible. Solar power is not only the most affordable answer but also sustainable and extremely reliable. It’s why we expect to see more EV owners go solar.