Hermit crabs are nature’s lovable improviser, foraging disused shell’s and putting them to good use in a second life so we thought yes, perfect for the circular economy.
Yes, by advocating solar thus avoiding the wasteful and polluting aspects of fossil fuelled mobility, plus, to a degree reusing cars and bikes with the help of local labour and giving them a second life by is also partly circular, only partly because we are are extending the life but not infinitely. At the same time we also use new battery cells for our bikes plus new solar PV panels and inverters in order to offer customers long life products. Not all new products have been designed to be continually upgraded so in this respect we are not circular but overall, balancing the new and used part of the business you may conclude we are as far as currently possible circular.
China with its over 1 billion home market plus global exports can exploit economies of scale and get their prices super low. China however does not observe the same labour and environmental laws as we do in the EU so we are in effect supporting dubious practices, not to mention the loss of local jobs in a globalised economy. Chinese products vary in quality from great to trash and forget about any after sales service should anything go wrong so it’s a bit of a lottery. Our policy is to use a maximum of local labour and not to import whole Chinese products but on occasion if a viable local option does not exist then we may choose Chinese products.
Traditional power stations that power the grid may burn coal, oil and gas that produces vast amounts of CO2 and other greenhouse gases and particulates the cause global warming and climate change. Currently renewable clean forms of energy are only a small percentage of most countries grid supply. In Greece the percentage of renewable energy that is integrated into the grid is below 20%. In addition, traditional fossil fuel burning power stations are very inefficient at converting heat energy to useable energy plus the fuel is sourced from unstable parts of the world and refined, shipped and then distributed by truck all adding to the embodied carbon footprint. If the damage resulting from climate change costs were built into the cost of fuel it would be by far the most expensive source.
Solar systems only produce power during sunlight conditions so it’s best to look at the weather forecast and plan your day so that charging can be done during hours of sunlight. We’ve been doing it that way for over 2 years and it’s actually fine, like hanging your washing out when it’s sunny rather than using a mechanical and electrical dryer, perfectly logical when you think about it. But it’s not always possible and that’s why net metering is a good solution that means you sell your excess solar production to the grid and purchase energy from the grid when there is insufficient solar energy to meet your needs. The selling price to the grid is less than the purchase price of the grid because there are various taxes built into the purchase price that you don’t get back. The other alternative is static battery storage of solar energy which is possibly the best solution for those living off grid. A variation of battery storage is V2H where the vehicle traction batteries store energy when energy is plentiful and give back to the grid when loads are high. This may not be suitable if there is only 1 car in your fleet. Our own experiments in this new technology reveal there are considerable losses involved each time you transfer energy especially when converting DC to AC current and vice versa. To summarise we still need the grid to avoid using expensive solar energy storage batteries but try to minimise our usage.
Once the solar charging system is installed driving and electric car is free. The more you drive and electric car the more fossil fuel costs you save. Based on around a 30,000 km a year distance driven, the pay back may be around 4.5 years. Less distance driven means a longer pay back period, and more distance means a shorter pay back period. With car fleets that are shared vehicles remain idle for less time and are driven more shortening their payback period and increasing lifetime savings.
Yes, electric vehicle batteries do degrade over time. A 2014 Nissan Leaf with 50km on the odometer that may originally have been capable of 120km range on one charge may degrade to 100km on 1 charge after 5 years and then continue degrading on a similar linear basis. For a city car where typical return journeys may only be up to 50km then there is no problem apart from the need to charge more frequently. Intercity journeys would be tiresome with such a short range and it would be better to take a train. Remember traditional internal combustion engines also degrade over time.
Why do I need the Solar Electric Club, I could buy electric cars, solar systems and chargers on the market myself.
Yes of course you could buy yourself. Purchasing equipment is only one part of our reason for being. If you first do some research buying from the market is a perfectly credible activity. In fact we are more than happy for more people to dump internal combustion engines and source their energy from clean sources whether they buy from us or not. You could even buy some components from the market and some from us, we don’t mind. But in any case still be a member of the club in order to share your experiences with us and others so we all grow wiser together, that’s the whole point. Plus if you would like to share any or all of your kit with others and be part of the network that would also be great. However if you are like us when we first started and feel slightly nervous about getting into this new technology then we can offer real insight, reassurance, guidance plus a great one stop shop making the whole experience as stress free as possible.
No, nothing that has any component that is manufactured that has an embedded energy and consequent carbon footprint. That goes for everything. But over the lifetime of the product, 25 years in the case of solar panels then compared to internal combustion engine cars fuelled by polluting fossil fuels and traditional polluting fossil fuel burning power stations the solar electric way is by hugely cleaner by a massive amount. One footnote here is lithium ion batteries. Lithium is a relatively plentiful element that is mined and like any mining process has an overall negative impact on the environment, still much much less than traditional cars and power stations but we’d like it to be less impactful. Eventually over time batteries will become more efficient, with longer life and capacity, but in the long run we see hydrogen as the ultimate solution, when storage and compression challenges are solved plus fuel cells that convert hydrogen to electricity become a reality.
Nissan Leafs are the largest selling electric car globally with 400,000 on the road out of a total electric car fleet of 3,000,000 which makes them well known, plenty of spare parts from breakers and when the Nissan Leaf was introduced in 2011 was named car of the year. We have been driving them since summer 2018 and really like their reliability and practicality.
Teslas look great and have amazing performance, at a price! and therefore at some point in the future when used Teslas become affordable to ‘Everyman’ then we would consider dealing in them. As much as we admire Elon Musk’s brave entrepreneurial skills and love of innovation, the whole Tesla offer is not exactly geared to allow ‘Everyman’ to easily fix and rebuild. This criticism can be also be leveyed to the car industry as a whole. But if you really want a Tesla we can help you or if you already have one you will still be welcome in the club.
Our whole reason for being is to promote solar energy and renewables generally plus electric mobility as a viable and non polluting alternative to the current polluting fossil fuelled cars and power stations. The alure of money is for one thing and one thing only, to reinvest into promoting, improving the physical and virtual elements of the solar electric club so they are even more awesome.
Currently we are testing the concept of car sharing with our own fleet of Nissan Leafs including the possibility of V2H. We hope to fix any bugs and have a market ready offer by the end of the year and will keep you posted.
Much of the cars and bikes we sell are restored used vehicles and therefore the guarantee only covers work we have made on the car or bike post purchase. We test our vehicles with digital diagnostic equipment and share the results with prospective buyers so as to be as transparent as possible and encourage potential customers to properly test the vehicle.
For the moment we are testing new innovative solar electric systems for marine use and aim to release details by the end of the year 2020. In the meantime we may offer certain whole items from the market.