DRIVING ON SUNSHINE
By Sandra Gordon & Martin Newlands
Monday 2nd of July 2018
COULD THIS SAVE PLANET EARTH?
Imagine a future in which the ugly chimney stacks of coal-burning power plants no longer blight our horizons and endanger our planet. If forward-thinking car manufacturers Tesla and Nissan have anything to do with it, that reality may be closer than you think.
Two major projects announced this year could see normal suburban homes transformed into mini-power plants, capturing and storing the power of the sun. The two ventures would save households a fortune on energy and, in the case of Nissan, have electric vehicle drivers literally ‘driving on sunshine’.
HARNESSING THE SUN
Firstly, the world’s largest ever virtual power plant is being planned for South Australia, by Tesla. The R8.6bn project will see installation of solar panels and a Powerwall battery in almost 100 000 social and low-income homes across the state.
The installation of the panels and battery will be financed by selling excess electricity back into the grid, resulting in no set-up charge to homeowners. Ultimately 10% of all homes in the region will be powered by solar, and residents’ power bills are expected to drop by 30%.
In essence what Tesla is creating is an enormous 250 megawatt, virtual power plant, with capacity equal to that of a large gas turbine or coal power plant, but running on and producing totally clean energy.
The aptly named Leaf is currently the world’s top selling electric vehicle. Manufacturers, Nissan, recently launched a solar energy and battery storage system for homes, from which they can also charge their Leaf electric cars.
The venture, named Nissan Energy Solar, allows UK homeowners to generate, store and charge electric vehicles with their own renewable energy – a so-called ‘generation-to-acceleration’ system.
The Nissan project is expected to significantly increase the number of solar-powered households – currently at 880 000 – and will also cut household energy bills by as much as two thirds.
As well as taking pressure off over-taxed electricity grids, local storage also appeals to US and UK homeowners facing the introduction of ‘time of use’ tariffs. Rates under such tariffs vary on demand – climbing at peak times, but declining overnight. Home storage allows owners to switch to battery power during expensive times, and recharge from the grid overnight when rates are lower.
COULD THIS CUT THE WORLD’S EMISSIONS BY HALF?
2016 saw 28% of America’s greenhouse gas emissions generated by vehicles, and a further 28% from the generation of electricity. A groundswell of support for combining renewable energy with zero emission driving, could thus help to reduce the country’s emission by more than half.
At The Know, we believe that sustainability starts at home. If you are searching for a green home, or wish to have yours valued, we recommend that a Pam Golding Properties area specialist is a good place to start.
Posted by Niki Jackson