Researchers at the University of Auckland have found that households which have solar panels installed are more likely to purchase an electric vehicle (EV).
The study, published in the international journal Energy Policy, made use of data from houses in Auckland to determine whether the presence of solar panels made a difference on what they drive.
“As researchers, we wanted to see whether there is a link or potential correlation between solar and EV uptake, and we found that there is,” says Dr Le Wen.
“Our study shows that solar panel uptake has the potential to encourage the adoption of EVs by providing sustainable charging solutions.”
Dr Le Wen admits that the Government and various transport agencies have implemented initiatives to encourage the uptake of EVs like the Clean Car Discount but recommended that solar power can play a part in that too.
“This is an area that policymakers should pay attention to. Because solar panels are positively associated with EV uptake, developing policy packages that can promote the uptake of both would benefit emission reduction and help achieve the net-zero carbon target by 2050,” Dr Le Wen says.
Co-author and a senior research fellow at the Business School’s Energy Centre, Dr Selena Sheng, added that EVs have more benefits than just driving.
“EVs can provide storage to take care of any surplus energy produced by solar panels. They can use this stored energy for driving or household use,” Dr Selena Sheng says.
“If you don’t use the energy generated by your solar panels, you can sell it back to the grid, or it goes to waste. But if you have an EV, it will increase usability because you can charge your battery and store energy there. Households investing in solar have the potential to accelerate EV uptake.”
The researchers also note that power collected from solar can be stored in an EV and can be used as an emergency backup in a power outage, with the help of a bidirectional charger.
This became especially useful following the recent barrage of severe weather the North Island experienced in February, as a range of fully electric cars with vehicle-to-load (V2L) capabilities were used to power cut-off homes.
Basil Sharp, an emeritus professor in energy economics, says that the study the availability of public chargers also bolsters EV uptake.
“We also found that males are more likely to install solar. Larger households are more likely to use solar because of their greater electricity needs. And, not surprisingly, higher unemployment rates mean people are less likely to adopt solar,” Sharp says.