How and where to dispose of batteries in a sustainable way?

where to dispose batteriesThe battery technology just like solar PV technology continues to advance and today there are various types of batteries being used to help power equipment or store energy for electricity. As the solar PV sector continues to grow whether with on-grid or off-grid solar applications; the battery technology will help to accelerate the increased adoption of solar PV in domestic, commercial and utility sectors and other renewable energy technologies that are intermittent in nature like the wind energy.
Similarly, with the rapid development of electric cars in various countries, it means that we will see the demand for battery technology continue to grow exponentially. Solar PV and electric vehicles(EV) will definitely demand increased usage of the battery technology among other sectors that require batteries such as agricultural, commercial or even the household sector where batteries are used for TV remotes, flashlights, children’s toys and small electronics like cellphones.

However, even with these technological developments; how and where to dispose of batteries after their useful life is completed is one aspect of sustainability that will need to be tackled from a system thinking perspective. At the development stage of these batteries, it calls for implementing sustainable design to make it easy to recycle most of the components of the battery technology in question. For instance, researchers at the IBM research unveiled recently a new battery technology that will eliminate the need for heavy metals in battery production hence improving sustainable design.

As such, before looking into proper ways of disposing batteries, it is good to know what batteries are, the different types of batteries, and what they are made up of, making them something that requires proper disposal. Well, batteries are a collection of one or a group of cells that undergo various chemical reactions to create a continuous flow of electrons in a circuit.

Battery cells are generally classified into three components that is the anode, also known as the negative electrode, cathode, also known as the positive electrode, and finally, the electrolytes. For sustainability, the battery chemical composition will matter as it will guide how a battery will be disposed of after its useful life. For instance, in the USA, when it comes to lead-acid batteries, 99% of these batteries are collected and recycled.

However, according to the World Economic Forum, recycling lithium-ion batteries is a bit challenging due to the diversity of cell types and the broad range of materials such as an alloy of cobalt, nickel, and copper that may require manual sorting and handling or even smelting (pyrometallurgy) to recover individual metals or battery raw materials such as cobalt carbonate.

Types of batteries

There are many types of batteries classified according to their chemical composition, formation factor, size, and the purpose they serve. They include:

  1. Primary batteries: These are a kind of batteries that cannot be recharged once fully used. These batteries are made up of electrochemical cells that their electrochemical reactions can also not be reversed. This kind of battery is usually used in devices that require no charging. Primary batteries are made up in a way that they provide high specific energy, and whenever used, the devices consume little power to ensure the battery has a long life span. The most common kind of primary batteries is alkaline batteries. They have higher specific energy levels, are environmentally friendly, and are cheaper to purchase.
  2. Secondary batteries are the direct opposite of primary batteries. Secondary batteries can be recharged, and their electrochemical cells and electrochemical reactions can be reversed when all the energy has been fully used up. The secondary batteries are commonly known as the rechargeable batteries. Secondary batteries can be classified into different groups depending on their chemistry or chemical composition.
    1. Lithium-ion: they are also known as Li-ion batteries. They are used in smart devices such as mobile phones and other battery home appliances. It has Lithium electrodes on it.
    2. Nickel Cadmium: Also known as Ni-Cd batteries. They are made up of nickel oxide hydroxide chemical and the metallic cadmium as the electrodes.
    3. Nickel-Metal hydride. This kind of batteries has the same chemical reaction to Ni-Cd batteries, which is nickel oxide hydroxide. Although, a negative electrode uses hydrogen-absorbing alloy, but not cadmium like the Ni-Cd battery
    4. Lead-acid batteries: Lead-acid batteries are cheaper efficient power batteries that are used in heavy-duty applications. They are usually used in instances where they are non-portable because of their weight. Lead-acid batteries are used in an application that includes vehicle batteries for ignition and lighting and also as solar-panel energy stores. Lead-acid batteries are made up of acid that is used to ensure proper current flow in the circuit. Lead-acid batteries are the oldest form of secondary batteries and are relatively cheap compared to the other secondary batteries.

where to dispose batteries

Where to dispose of batteries

Batteries are disposed of depending on the type which determines their chemical composition.

a) Household batteries: Household batteries can be classified into two groups, either rechargeable or non-rechargeable batteries. Disposing of the household batteries is not as complicated as disposing of the vehicle and industrial batteries.

According to battery solutions, alkaline batteries (AAA, AA, C, D, 9V, etc.) can be recycled using a specialized “room temperature,” mechanical separation process to recycle alkaline batteries.

The alkaline battery components are separated into three end products, that is, a zinc and manganese concentrate, steel, and paper, plastic and brass fractions. All of these products are put back into the market place for reuse in new products to offset the cost of the recycling process.

However, when it comes to rechargeable batteries, for example, lithium batteries are recyclable. They can, therefore, be disposed of at the battery recycling centers, electronic retailers who recycle batteries, or a waste collection site for hazardous materials. Therefore, ensuring you dispose of batteries properly.

b) Industrial batteries.

Industrial batteries can also be referred to as forklift or traction batteries. Industrial batteries can normally be drained to about 20% of the maximum charging capacity before a recharge.

Industrial batteries are manufactured with lead plates making them not disposable in the trash. Lead is considered to be a hazardous waste that is highly toxic to the environment. So when it comes to the industrial batteries, an estimated 60 to 80 percent of the used battery is normally reclaimed. More than 95 percent of the industrial lead-acid batteries are recycled.

The outer plastic shell is recycled to make some new plastic items, whereas the metal plates undergo purification to manufacture new batteries. In most states, there is a law that accepts the return of the industrial batteries to the retailer for disposal purposes. In case one cannot trace the retailer, they can contact the government officials for the information on the directions to follow to ensure proper disposal of the industrial batteries, industrial batteries maybe containing sulphuric acid that is harmful.

Safety precaution is normally advised when transporting the batteries for disposal. One should also avoid exposing the batteries to open flames or incidental devices like the cigarette lighters just for precaution measures.

c) Vehicle batteries: Car batteries are made out of lead-acid which is hazardous. It is, therefore, essential to dispose of it carefully just to avoid harmful side effects that can be life-threatening to human beings. There are many ways to dispose of vehicle batteries.
where to dispose batteries

  • Returning the battery to a retailer. When purchasing the battery, there is normally a core charge fee certain retailers usually add in the receipts. This charge means that the battery is essential to the retailer. It can either be recycled or be rebuilt. Meaning that you can return the battery to the retailers, and they refund back your money with the same amount you paid as a core charge fee.
  • Taking the car battery to a recycling depot: You can check on the closest designated recycling depots near you on the internet and dispose of your car battery there for disposals.
  • Taking the car battery to an auto parts store: You can make your take battery to an auto parts store as you go buy another one.
  • Selling the car battery to scrap metal depot: One can decide to sell their batteries off to the scrap metal depot near them at a fee.
  • Taking the car batteries to battery recycling centers where they can recycle them and make something good out of them.

Each state has its own recycling program while resources such as Earth911 have a comprehensive online platform for helping online users decide on how to dispose of old batteries. Earth911 provides a recycling locator for all types of batteries where you just enter your zip code and it pulls the details for your specific battery and how or where to recycle them.

Call2Recycle is another online resource that offers a network of over 34,000 local recycling centers and drop-off locations for rechargeable batteries such as local municipalities and local retailers like Best Buy.

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Grid stabilization with increased renewable energy.

AI and solar PVWith the growing environmental concerns about climate change and the need for decarbonization, many private sector organizations, governments, and civil society have committed to a 100% renewable energy future.

As of late 2016, more than 300 cities, municipalities, and regions including Frankfurt, Vancouver, Sydney, San Francisco, Copenhagen, Oslo, Scotland, Kasese in Uganda, Indonesia’s Sumba island and the Spanish Island of El Hierro have demonstrated that transitioning to 100% RE is a viable political decision.

It is no doubt such ambitious targets to transition to 100% renewables will require new tools, concepts, and technologies to cope with the increased penetration of intermittent renewable energy into the grid. The good news is that technological developments, in the artificial intelligence and analytics space have already created tools and solutions needed to enable the decarbonization of the economy according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

As such, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has developed solutions in its recent report on the “Innovation Landscape for a Renewable Powered Future” which provides a toolbox of solutions for policymakers and guidance on how to apply them system-wide in a coherent and mutually-reinforcing way.

In particular, these solutions center around the application of digital technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), big data and analytics in increasing flexibility in the system for larger integration of renewable energy.

According to IRENA, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and big data, the Internet of Things and batteries are innovative solutions that will enable massive solar and wind use and amplify the transformation of the power sector based on renewables.

Why AI, Big-Data, and Analytics?

The increasing electrical loads such as electric cars, energy storage (batteries or pumped hydro) as well as decentralized renewable energy power such as rooftop solar PV systems, commercial solar, and wind power systems will need a more stable grid or a smart grid.

A smart grid is able to learn and adapt based on the load and amount of variable renewable energy put into the grid as a result of having lots of rooftops solar PV, other extra loads to the grid such as electric cars, energy storage (batteries and pumped hydro) and increasing decentralized intermittent renewable energy.

AI and Internet of Things

Without a smart system using artificial intelligence (AI), big data and analytics, grid operators will definitely not cope with the changing electrical loads and the increasing penetration of renewable energy into the grid.

Also, at its core, AI is a series of systems that act intelligently, using complex algorithms to recognize patterns, draw inferences and support decision-making processes through their own cognitive judgment, the way people do.

How can AI support the large integration of renewable energy?

Since renewable energy is very intermittent in nature as we would expect because there is no constant wind or solar generation due to weather changes, renewables such as solar and wind can be unreliable and many utility companies utilize energy storage (batteries or pumped hydro) to deal with this issue.

Excess solar or wind power is stored during low demand times and used when energy demand goes high. As a result, AI can improve the reliability of solar and wind power by analyzing enormous amounts of meteorological data and using this information to make predictions and knowing when to gather, store and distribute wind or solar power.

smart grid AIOn the other hand, AI used in smart grids can be used to balance the grid especially when rooftop solar and other decentralized renewable energy are involved and put into the grid. AI systems utilizing neural networks or complex algorithms to recognize patterns associated with various loads (electric vehicles or energy storage) and increased rooftop solar or other forms of distributed energy (wind or solar) which can make the system to be unstable. The most efficient way to balance this variability in the system is through AI in analyzing grids before and after they absorb smaller units, and in working to reduce congestion.

The IRENA’s report Innovation Landscape for a Renewable Powered Future explains these new AI tools and digital technologies that will support the deployment of renewables as the power sector complexity continues to increase.

According to IRENA, most of the advances currently supported by AI have been in advanced weather and renewable power generation forecasting and in predictive maintenance. However, in the future, AI and big data will further enhance decision-making, planning and supply chain optimization while increasing the overall energy efficiency of the energy systems.

For the renewable energy sector, AI and analytics can support it in several ways such as better monitoring, operation, and maintenance of renewable energy.

IBM research unveils a new battery free of heavy metals

electric vehicle batteriesWith the increasing demand for solar powered buildings, solar powered vehicles (electric vehicles(EVs) ) and smart grid power solutions; it is certain that there will be high demand for batteries. Many batteries including nickel and cobalt batteries pose an environmental threat to our natural ecosystem because of heavy metals.

From a system thinking perspective or a life-cycle basis – EVs, as well as all other going solar concepts, need alternative battery or storage solutions to significantly increase their environmental performance compared to conventional diesel or gas-powered vehicles.

For instance, in this article concerning EV sustainability issues, we saw that EV batteries are predominantly Lithium-ion batteries (e.g., Nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC), lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC)) which use lithium, cobalt, nickel, and graphite. As such, even with sustainable recycle and re-use programs to tackle the threat to the environment with increased adoption of EVs in the future, the development of sustainable materials or building new EV batteries that are zero in heavy metals will help to tackle these concerns from a system perspective.

Technological breakthroughs at the IBM research could help to solve the battery sustainability challenge:  

Researchers at the IBM research just unveiled recently a new battery discovery than could revolutionize the entire battery industry and help to solve the EV and going solar sustainability challenges when it comes to the elimination of heavy metals.

According to IBM research, it discovered a new battery which will eliminate the need for heavy metals in battery production and transform the long-term sustainability of many elements for our energy infrastructure. IBM research has discovered chemistry for a new battery that does not use heavy metals or other substances with sourcing concerns because the materials for this new battery are able to be extracted from seawater. Consequently, this lays the foundation for less invasive sourcing techniques than current material mining methods as noted by IBM research.

The new battery technology is also very promising because of its performance potential as determined in its initial tests which proved the new battery has faster charging time, higher power and energy density, storage energy efficiency and low flammability compared with the capabilities of lithium-ion batteries.

In addition, the new battery design could outperform lithium-ion across several sustainable technologies because it uses cobalt and nickel-free cathode material, as well as a safe liquid electrolyte with a high flash point. As such, this new battery design and chemistry includes a unique combination of the cathode and electrolyte demonstrated an ability to suppress lithium metal dendrites during charging, thereby reducing flammability, which is widely considered a significant drawback for the use of lithium metal as an anode material.

Lithium-ion batteries seem to be current battery technology at the moment, however, if new the battery discovery by IBM research is proving to perform better technically and environmentally, this discovery holds significant potential for electric vehicle batteries.

According to IBM research, the new battery will have a huge potential because of its flammability, cost and charging time.  It can reach an 80% state of charge with its configuration for high power at less than five minutes as shown during its current tests. IBM research is also using AI and machine learning techniques to mine huge data points that have helped to speed up this research and with better accuracy testing and the set hypothesis.

Future of solar in a smart building.

smarthomeBecause of the volatility of global oil prices, the cost of energy will continue to increase proportionately and especially when our energy demand continues to depend on finite fossil fuels. Similarly, the cost of energy for an average building in the USA or globally will continue to increase proportionately when the main source is from fossil fuels because the price for energy continues to increase due to volatility of oil prices. Solar PV and increased connectivity is an option that seems very promising and could help to reduce or mitigate the issue of climate change and increasing energy prices.

The advent of AI in energy management

Artificial intelligence technologyThe advent of new technologies such as big data analytics, machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics and blockchain allows for smart building energy management systems that can provide monitoring made possible through the Internet of Things (IoT), advanced data analytics and via wireless connections.

Looking in the future, solar is likely to be sold as a core part of the smart building concept that includes a building energy management system, energy storage, Electric Vehicle (EV) charging and smart appliances. This makes more sense because sourcing all the energy from solar will help to save more money and help to achieve sustainability. Also, EV and smart appliances can help to balance the grid for instance, electric vehicles can be used as temporary storage to connected appliances to reduce power usage when needed.

IoTAlso, in the energy management space, lighting and HVAC integration are the two most common systems integrated into the smart building strategy to reduce the energy footprint, but the IoT industry has opened the door to more sensors and hence increased intelligence through data collection. Some of the most common IoT sensors have applications for smart metering, occupancy sensors, water detection, humidity sensors, contact sensors, and carbon monoxide detection among many others.

Internet of Things

The whole idea of making your building smart is to allow you to make more informed decisions about the building based on the data it provides. Data is aggregated via IoT (Internet of Things) controls and sensors in a web-based platform that can be monitored, controlled and acted upon in real-time or perhaps using your cellphone. The main advantage of having a smart building is to help facility and property managers gain insight into the detailed workings of their locations and gather useful data to improve building performance and efficiency.

Advantages of integrating solar in a smart building:

  •  Smart buildings utilize machine learning algorithms and can be able to forecast your energy consumption and through demand response mechanisms solar consumption by the building can be increased in times of high solar generation and vice-versa. Through IoT smart appliances can be remotely controlled digitally to adopt on-site demand. For instance, heat pumps, heat storage batteries and air conditioning units can be optimized with solar generation and be a way of using excess solar electricity as heat.
  • Battery storage and smart electric vehicle charging when integrated with solar PV could significantly increase solar consumption for some households and businesses and especially when solar PV is combined with battery storage.
  • Deep machine learning and artificial intelligence when integrated with your smart appliances and solar can help to forecast and manage generation and consumption as well as voice activation technology to make systems more user-friendly.
  • Generally, smart buildings through optimization increase energy efficiency, comfort and safety and with solar PV, more energy is saved reducing your energy footprint.

This article explained how the smart building concept can help to reduce energy consumption and allow for the integration of solar PV, EV charging and IoT helping you reduce your energy footprint to achieve sustainability. However, a key question is whether these smart building technologies can currently pay for themselves? Do they currently increase or decrease the return on investment on installation when combined with solar?  EnergySage is a great starting point to help you figure out your energy savings when it comes to going solar.

Electric car chargers and charging systems

How long does it take to charge an electric car?

Owning an electric vehicle (EV) is one thing, but there is always a question that most people will find themselves asking, how long will it take me to charge my car? Time is always one crucial component and when you misuse it, then you lose a lot. The answer to this kind of question is always one that always depends on various variables. At the start, you will have to choose an EV, now when it comes to charging, then it means you have to make a choice. So the charging time, as usual, will depend on your vehicle.

Another vital thing is the charging infrastructure. Yes, you have your care charge at home. But do you have enough electricity that will accomplish that? That means that at some point, you are prone to charging for a longer time, like when charging at home. How long can this car take you when it is fully charged? That leaves us with the best possible answers. The kind of infrastructure that you have and then the type of car you have.

The kind of car that you own

Not many countries have managed to migrate from fuel cars to EV cars, however, ever since the 2008 release of the Tesla Roadster — the first mass-produced highway-legal electric vehicle (EV) powered by a lithium-ion battery — automakers, from General Motors to Toyota, have been rushing to launch their own electric cars.

Let’s look at some of the cars that have taken the industry and what they can offer in terms of charging ability.

  • Nissan (Leaf). Now charging this vehicle when it is at zero to its full charge will require 24 hours charging. This will happen when you are using the power that is in your house. But if you can get a special 7kW charger, you will have managed to cut down that charging time to around 7.5hrs. If you get a rapid charger, then you will be able to recharge your battery that is at 20% to 80% in just an hour only.
  • Tesla (Model 3). Tesla recommends a wall connector with a NEMA 14-50 plug – as a home charging solution NEMA 14-50 with a 240V outlet on a 50 AMP circuit breaker that can charge a Tesla Model 3 at a rate of 30 miles per hour.
  • Jaguar (i-Pace SUV). For this brand, if using a special home charger, you can recharge your battery at the rate around 25 miles of range in an hour.
  • Hyundai (Kona electric). This is a brand that has been known to cruise to an 80% charge in just 9 hours and 35 minutes. That will have happened when you are using a home wall unit. when you go to a fast-charging station, you are sure to use at most 75 minutes of charging. When you plug the charger to the mains installation at home, you will need to have it at full charge at around 28 hours.

Electric car chargers and charging systems

How long does it take to charge an electric car?

The type of charger that you will use to charge your EV also matters a lot. Most people have a notion that their vehicles can be charged from home, which is quite true, but it is one of the slowest charging systems that you can opt to use. when you want the best, you need to dig into your pocket and invest in a wall box for charging. You can get it from the manufacturer or an aftermarket provider. That way, you will have increased the flow of power to your car to around 7.5kW.

Tesla has been in the industry for along and when you use their products, you feel the difference. They have also come up with a charging station and wall box that has a power output of 19.2kW. that means that it can deliver up to 71km per hour when charging their models.

Power stations of charging are slowly being installed where you can go in, do a fast charging and move on with your journey instead of staying glued for a long time waiting for the vehicle to charge fully. Charging time has always been a discussion and whether it will be fast enough to win these electric vehicles. That should be a topic that we will engage in another time.

A quick summary

As we have seen, the time that it will take to charge an electric car will depend. It can start from just 30 minutes or too many hours that might even exceed 12 hours. This will come down to the size of the battery that your car has been designed with and also the speed of charging that you will get at charging points. I found out the following: –

  • That most drivers will have to top up the charge on their vehicles instead of having the vehicle charge to the maximum. This is because of the long waiting hours.
  • A typical standard car will just need around 8 hours to charge. But it should have a 7kW charging point.
  • If you are traveling, you can add up charge to your car that will push you for at least 100 miles before charging again for 35 minutes.
  • If your battery car is bigger, and the charging point is slower, then it will take a bit longer to accomplish your charging.

When you get to look at the batteries, because of their massive work, they will start to degrade right from the first time that you will charge them, slowly. The good news is that manufacturers can give you up to 8 years of warranty in case something wrong happens to the batteries.

Learn more about how going solar can help you reduce charging costs for your electric car.

Sustainability concerns for electric vehicles (EVs)

electric vehicles

With the increasing demand for EVs every year, concerns about their environmental performance is a highly debated topic. As such, the following three (3) issues seem to be the leading ecological concerns for EVs and must be acknowledged and addressed as the EV technology continues to evolve while finding sustainability solutions to these challenges. Also, no technological change is without consequences, and in most cases, there are trade-offs to assess. These three (3) issues are:

1. The use of critical earth metals, i.e., Neodymium, dysprosium, and praseodymium that are scarce.

2. EV batteries if not recycled or re-used, pose a significant danger to the environment.

3. The climate impact of EVs, when powered by carbon-intensive electricity, does not provide the environmental benefit of fighting climate change.

1. Use of critical earth metals

Critical “elements” of the earth like Neodymium, dysprosium, and praseodymium are used in the manufacturing of magnets for electric vehicle motors and lithium-ion batteries.

However, these rare metals aren’t as rare as precious metals like gold, platinum, and palladium and the main driver at the moment for rapid use of these critical elements is the global demand for cellphones, laptop computers, and other electronic devices that use lithium-ion batteries. electric vehicles

With the current recycling rate of these metals being less than one (1) percent and material substitution possibilities limited as well, it calls for certification extraction programs to encourage stronger social and environmental standards.

2. EV batteries need a proper recycling program

EV batteries are predominantly Lithium-ion batteries (e.g., Nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC), lithium-nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC)) which use lithium, cobalt, nickel, and graphite.

With the increasing demand for EVs and most batteries lasting at least eight (8) years, it is critical to in the long-term to re-use, recycle and have a progressive program for substitution that will help to reduce the long-term environmental impact of EVs.

Sustainable recycle and re-use programs will help to tackle the danger to the environment with increased adoption of EVs in the future.

3. Life-cycle climate impact of EVs

From a life-cycle perspective, EVs if powered from electrical grids that are carbon-intensive (i.e., that source a considerable portion of their power generation from fossil fuels or coal), this does not significantly help to reduce well-to-wheel greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with EVs.

Well-to-wheel results account for all the energy and emissions necessary to produce the fuel used in the car (Well to Pump) and the operation energy and emissions associated with the vehicle technology (tail-pipe emissions, other emissions, and energy efficiency of the vehicle).

According to the EnergySage, taking well-to-wheel emissions into account, all-electric cars emit an average of around 4,450 pounds of CO2 equivalent each year. In comparison, conventional gasoline cars will emit over twice as much annually.

However, the amount of well-to-wheel emissions your EV is responsible for is mostly dependent on your geographic area and the energy sources most commonly used for electricity. As more renewable energy enters the grid, the climate impact of EV will further diminish. Countries with the highest grid carbon intensity will deliver less climate benefit compared to countries with a low grid carbon intensity that will have substantial climate benefits.

Solar PV a great solution to tackle the climate impacts of EVs

electric vehicle

Powering your EV with solar panels will help to off-set carbon emissions, especially when the grid power is carbon-intensive. Solar PV comes in handy for powering your vehicle in places where the grid is primarily powered with fossil fuels hence reducing the environmental impact of your EV. Learn more here about the Environment and EVs.

How long does it take to charge an electric vehicle?

electric vehiclesIt is worthwhile to know about how long it will take to charge your electric vehicle (EV) before buying it, and hence, many prospective buyers would probably research the charging times for different EV models. Charging times would vary by the type of the EV, and the type of the charging station in question.

1. Type of EV

EVs today are classed by the degree of electricity used as their energy source. As such, we have three main types of electric vehicles, including BEVs (Battery electric vehicles), PHEVs (Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles), and HEVs (hybrid electric vehicles). This article is about BEVs (Battery Electric Vehicles).

Battery Electric Vehicles are typically referred or called EVs and are fully electric with rechargeable batteries and no gasoline engine. Electric vehicles use electric motors other than internal combustion engines (ICEs).

EVs store electricity on their high capacity battery packs and use battery power to run their electric motor and all other functions of the EV.

When it comes to charging times, this can range between 30 minutes to 20 hours or more based on the type of the EV, as well as the kind of battery, how depleted it is and capacity. In this case, BEVs take longer to recharge when their cells are entirely used up than their hybrid EV counterparts.

Most EVs seem to use lithium-ion batteries of various designs, similar to those used in cellphones and laptops computers, but use these types of cells on a much larger scale. For instance, the Nissan LEAF uses lithium-ion batteries and can charge at about 8 hours using a 220/240-volt Nissan charging dock at your home or charge at a 110/120-volt outlet but would take a little bit longer.

electric vehicles

However, other EVs for instance cars from GEM (Global Electric Motorcars) use lead-acid batteries which is much an older technology that is proven to be reliable and charges in about 6 to 8 hours at a standard 110-volt outlet.

2. Type of charging point

Your charging point is another determinant of how fast you can charge your EV. There are three types of chargers, that is level 1 charging stations, level 2 charging stations, and level 3 charging stations.

  • Level 1 stations use the regular 120-volt connection or the standard household outlet and hence do not have their extra costs. However, this type of charge is a little bit slow.
  • Level 2 uses a higher-output 240-volt power source, like the one that you plug your oven or clothes dryer into and charging times are much faster than with a Level 1 EV charging station.
  • Level 3 chargers are fast-charging devices that use very high voltage and can add 90 miles of range to an EV in just 30 minutes in some cases. These chargers, however, are costly, costing tens of thousands of dollars, and routinely using a Level 3 chargers can ultimately hurt your car’s battery.

Why solar panels compliment EVs?

How long it takes to charge an EV is just one consideration; however, you also want to save money despite what type of charger or EV you have. Charging your EV with solar energy is probably one of the most exciting aspects of driving a fully electric vehicle because you increase your energy efficiency by utilizing the power from the panels

As such, the EnergySage has written an article about why solar panels compliment EVs. According to the EnergySage, a solar PV system will charge your electric car just as it will supply energy for the rest of your home appliances. Even a small solar panel array with only ten (10) solar panels can provide enough power to charge your vehicle’s battery.

Click here to learn more about why solar panels compliment EVs.

Electric vehicles (EVs) and solar PV future.

electric vehicleWhy EVs?

The market of the Electric vehicles (EVs) continues to grow as many EV manufacturers consider EVs as the future transportation technology. The EPA estimates that greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) from transportation were at 28.9% in 2017 in the USA.

The GHGs primarily come from burning fossil fuels from cars, trucks ships, trains and planes as 90% of the fuel used for transportation is petroleum-based, mainly gasoline and diesel.

On a global scale, the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) is the largest source of GHGs exceeding 40%. ICE in the transport sector is for propulsion and operation of other equipment in the agriculture, extraction industries, and manufacturing.

ICE has other problems associated with air pollution, increased particulates in the atmosphere in which an electric motor can help to reduce. However, switching from ICE to electric motors will take a long time because of price among other technological barriers such as the concern that EVs do not have the range and refueling of fossil powered vehicles is easy and faster than recharging an EV. Investors are also reluctant to invest in existing EV technology since a more advanced technology will be available in 2-3 years.

Barriers to EVs uptake

We see the EV technology is still in the nascent stage, and a few barriers exist before this technology can go mainstream. The main obstacle seems to be the high initial cost of EVs, and thus achieving price parity with the fossil-fuelled vehicle is needed before the massive deployment of the technology takes place. Tesla electric vehicle

EVs Types

The EV types include plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV), hybrid electric vehicles (HEV), and battery electric vehicles (BEV). For the USA, the EnergySage list the top electric car manufacturers and vehicles, including but not limited to Tesla, Nissan, Chevrolet, Volkswagen, Ford, BMW, and KIA. Teslas’ three most popular cars are Tesla Model S (Sedan) and Tesla Model X (SUV), and the lower-cost Tesla Model 3. The Tesla Model has almost 300 miles in range per charge.

Rivian and the new EV Pickup Trucks

There are also new entrants in the market, such as Rivian will introduce pickup trucks designed for on-road and off-road driving. Rivian intends to launch an all-electric five-passenger pickup truck in 2020 and a seven-passenger SUV after that. Rivian claims these vehicles will deliver between 200 and 400 miles of range.

In comparison with V-6 or V-8 engine used for most Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) engines in truck pickups, Rivian claims it will provide R1T powered by a quad-motor system that sends 147kW and torque control to each wheel. Rivian plans to have three battery options, including a 135kWh (300 miles range), 180kWh (400 miles range) and 105kWh (230 miles range).solar panels

Is solar PV good for EVs?

Since EVs are powered by electricity and support switching from fossils-fuels (Internal Combustion Engines) to electric motors for cars, pickup trucks and other modes of transportation, solar PV comes in handy to power your vehicle with solar energy.

For instance, when it comes to air transport, already Solar Impulse 2 – a solar-powered plane showcased the potential of renewable energy (solar PV) to power planes and completed the first round-the-world flight using solar power. The aircraft had a wingspan more full than Boeing 747 and flew more than 40,000 kilometers without fuel, and had more than 17,000 solar cells on its wings and spent 23 days in the air.

When it comes to EVs, solar PV will play a significant part in the EV recharging infrastructure. Using solar PV will be like using free energy to power an EV for solar-powered homes and businesses.

Solar panels once paid off at 5 to 10 years depending on federal and state incentives, and you will be able to use free energy from the sun after solar panels have paid themselves. Owners of solar-powered homes and businesses will save money since using EVs powered with solar power will save the grid lots of energy created by an extra demand from EVs.

Also, having a rapid penetration of EV charging stations will put a strain on the grid and hence having solar-powered EV infrastructure could help solve grid stability issues.

If you are an EV owner, you could determine how much you could save in terms of fuel usage avoidance, going solar and return on investment from using solar panels to power your vehicle and home or business. Start by using this solar panel cost calculator from the EnergySage.