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Vehicles that power our homes — How EVs and SEVs can rebalance our relationship with energy

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Electric cars energy grid

As a society, we’re moving from fossil fuels to cleaner, electric alternatives. That’s good news, but in doing so, we’re asking more and more of our power grid. Answers to putting the power grid back in balance could lie with our vehicles; in this blog, we explore the ways our EVs can give electricity back.

From the way we heat our homes to daily commutes and social habits, we’re using energy differently; moving away from fossil fuels and towards electric alternatives.

Readiness to adopt an electric way of life is growing — powerful shifts we broke down in our last mobility blog. But there’s a hitch. As we move more toward electric, we increase pressure on our power grid, which is still largely fossil-fuelled.

To make the switch both scalable and sustainable, we need to relieve that pressure. And at Lightyear, we believe the cars we drive can play a huge part in restoring a more balanced relationship with our energy.

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Mobility and energy — the power of EVs

Lightyear Product Owner Charging & Energy Services, Reinout de Jongh, explains how electric mobility could help put our relationship with energy back on track: "While our societal habits take a great deal, the power to shift towards a more conscious relationship with our energy lies in our choices and perceptions.

“EVs can make us more independent from the electricity grid. By utilising a car as a battery system, we could store excess solar energy from our roof for later use, or retrieve electricity from the grid only when there’s abundant green electricity available.

“The power grid is constantly working to maintain balance, and while the future addition of renewable energy sources is a positive step, it could actually increase moments of imbalance on the grid, too.

“Clean energies and efficient usage could achieve 90% of required carbon reductions, but renewable sources cannot always supply electricity precisely when needed. And when large amounts of energy are generated, it can be tricky to store.

“Using an EV to charge and discharge energy at the right moments of relief and pressure can really help to maintain a more balanced grid.”

The energy transition — Renewable moves

Solar power is a particularly plentiful and powerful renewable energy source. Every hour, 430 quintillion joules of energy hit the earth. That’s enough to cover the entire world’s annual usage, achieved in just two minutes. The challenge then, lies in capturing it.

Developing solar farms means investing in infrastructure, and potentially encroaching on natural habitats. To reduce the need for ground clearance, society is opting to install solar panels on existing infrastructure.

We say, why not our cars?

solar powered cars energy

SEVs that give back — A solar electric solution

Solar electric cars require less frequent charging for drivers and generate clean energy to gift to the grid.

More than a mobile storage system, solar electric cars could become an extension of the solar panels on your roof — a means to put free, clean energy into a struggling power grid, your home and its appliances.

solar powered cars sun

Unlike conventional EVs, this detracts nothing from your range. Lightyear 0, the world’s first production-ready solar car, can drive >1000 km between charges by adding a daily dose of solar energy on top of a battery range of 625 km (WLTP). In sunny climates, its integrated solar arrays can harvest up to 70 km per day. Once the battery in Lightyear 0 is fully charged, all power collected from the sun thereafter could be used for other purposes. In other words, it’s the extra, obsolete energy your Lightyear would put back into the grid.

Let’s take an average commute of 29 km per day in a Spanish summer: Lightyear 0 would generate more energy than it consumes, flipping the script to predominantly give to the power grid, or your household, rather than take. Instead of putting energy into your car, you’ll get clean energy from it.

EVs that store and supply — the (off) grid solution

It’s our mission to scale solar mobility, aiming for a light-year driven in solar kilometres by 2035. But the EVs we know today can already offer bright ways to make the most of our energy, and it starts with seeing their potential beyond a means from A to B.

Your national power grid experiences peaks and troughs in line with societal habits. For example, at 18:00, it’ll become particularly busy. Commuters are returning home, switching on the heating, charging devices and cooking dinner.

It’s that same moment that many EV owners plug in to top up their range. Imagine then, at this moment of severe strain, your car directly giving power to the grid, and taking later?

Vehicle to grid (V2G)

With the right approach, our electric cars become mobile energy storage systems that could supply back to the grid when it matters most. A vehicle to grid (V2G) solution.

vehicle to grid (V2G)

Vehicle to home (V2H)

Your EV could even power your house, taking the electricity grid out of the equation completely to supply energy when and where it needs it most.

Homeowners generating solar power from roofs could also store this energy locally in their electric vehicle, returning it to the home later. Vehicle to home (V2H).

Vehicle to home (V2H)

Vehicle to load (V2L)

Let’s trickle a little further into our (off) grid solution, and vehicles could even be powering your AC devices, such as a laptop or coffee machine.

Your vehicle suddenly becomes a backup generator, ready to send energy into your most important appliances whenever it’s needed.

Vehicle to load (V2L)

For a world put back in balance

Balance is essential to our planet, but also to us. The natural world suffers from too much or too little, and so do we. Too much sun, too little water. Too much work, too little movement. Every day, we tread a challenging line of excess and scarcity, searching for the sweet spot between health and happiness to live enriched and conscious lives.

Our relationship with energy should be no different. As it stands today, there isn't enough emphasis put on curving a growing demand from our power grid, but that’s changing.

renewable energy wind

In our next mobility blog, we explore the near and more distant future of travel, transport and mobility as expansive technologies forge the way to a cleaner world.

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About Lightyear

We design for independence and convenience. We create clean solar electric cars that can drive off-grid and into all of life's adventures.

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This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 848620