More than a year ago, Paul Stanko, a senior forecaster at the National Weather Service, felt the need to have an emissions-free car for the family after hearing about several prototypes of upgraded electric vehicles with solar-paneled roofs.
He really wanted to tap into the power of the sun but soon found out the challenge of completing his goal – outfitting the panels into the vehicle.
Stanko said he did his research into the possibility of having a fully integrated solar-powered EV on Guam.
Stanko asked his solar provider if this could be done.
“‘I want to drive solar. Can you do that?'” he asked.
He was informed that it was not possible at that time.
“But I did not give up at that point,” Stanko said. “I just said, ‘OK, if that is not going to work that way, let us just keep it in mind.'”
He had to make compromises. Instead of outfitting the car with solar panels, he asked his renewable energy provider, Micronesia Renewable Energy, to upgrade the charging station to a solar-powered system so it would source energy from the sun.
He already had taken the first step, which is investing in a solar panel system for the home. Buying the car and upgrading the charging system would be the next phase to his plan.
Stanko bought a 2018 Nissan Leaf at a cost of around $38,000. While the price tag comes with the vehicle and the charging station, he had to shell out an additional $600 for the installation costs.
At that time, their Dededo home already was fitted with more than 20 250-watt solar panels. But with the addition of the EV charging system, Stanko had to add more than 20 panels.
Today, the home has around 43 panels to support the energy requirements of the home plus the EV charging system.
What is the difference between a regular and a solar-powered charging station?
Stanko said it’s just enough to push the system over the edge and make it into something new. First, he said it fulfills the goal of driving a nearly emissions-free vehicle.
“It is much cleaner for people who are worried about their carbon footprint. My carbon footprint when driving this car is closer to zero as you can get,” Stanko said.
The solar-powered EV charging system connects into the home’s existing net metering account. On average, Stanko’s power bill reflects a $15 monthly charge for administrative costs, but he has to pay for the lease payment for the solar panels. Also, Stanko does not pay for gas, which is a plus.
“They tailor the deal so you are paying for the lease of your solar panels about what you are paying for electricity. Ours is just a little bit more than $200 a month, which is not too bad,” he said.
The setup is pretty simple. The charging system is plugged in using a conventional three-prong dryer plug. For the setup, Stanko invested in a 220-volt charger that can fully power up the vehicle after eight hours.
“If you have a 110-volt charger, it will take a few days. If you have a 220 volt, it will happen overnight,” he said.
Stanko charges his vehicle at least once a week. Once fully powered, it can go for 180 miles.
“It’s like going out and getting gas,” he said, adding, “Once fully charged, it will go for 180 miles.”
He has not found himself losing juice in the middle of driving.
“It is just like a gas car, you have to make sure that you are fully charged,” he said.
Stanko wants to go off-grid in the future. However, he knows that he would have to invest in a reliable battery storage system to fully support their energy demand.
A battery bank stores excess solar energy and offsets grid requirements at night or during overcast and cloudy days.
“That’s why you need a battery bank to smooth it over. So you make more power than you normally need, store it in a battery bank and then when you have a couple of lean days – you are all right,” he said.
Proving it can be done
While integrating EV charging stations with residential solar-powered systems makes environmental sense, Stanko believes the concept is still taking off on Guam. He thinks that he may be the one of the first or even the first EV car owner to actually connect his residential solar setup with the EV charging station.
When people ask why he had to do it, Stanko replies, “I want to prove that it can be done. If it inspires the public to get thinking, then it is good.”
Source: Google News : https://www.postguam.com/news/local/driving-on-the-power-of-the-sun/article_fcacdedc-043d-11e9-a47d-3b79ff15420f.html