When cars and solar energy meet
Lex Hoefsloot — Co-Founder
Energy is the ability to do work. It is the reason why we have progressed into a highly prosperous society within 200 years. Energy veteran Gregg Maryniak showed me this graph that puts the whole story into perspective. Looking at this timescale, it suddenly becomes clear that fossil fuels are just a blip in history. In a very short time, fossil fuels gave us prosperity and the ability to accelerate all aspects of human development. Sadly, we all know that these energy sources came with a dark-side. We will inevitably switch to a new energy source.
Despite the fact that this ‘blip’ is associated with massive amounts of energy, scientists are in fact quite certain that we can produce the same amount of energy using solar and wind power. Isn’t it fascinating how we are heading towards a future in which we can produce many times more energy using solar and wind power than mother nature has been carefully collecting for us in the form of oil and gas, since the formation of earth?
What strikes me the most is that renewable energy sources push us into an era in which we become independent from the earth’s resources. These resources are essentially mother nature’s gift to humanity, a way to kick start our journey towards a prosperous society. But now, humanity is progressing from puberty to adulthood and is ready to become independent, to care for its own energy. Since we won’t have to live at nature’s expense anymore, we can continue our growth. Because of these new energy sources, billions of people will reach higher prosperity levels.
Why we think it is important to put the solar cells on the roof of the car, instead of on the roofs of houses? The short answer: you will want both.
But let’s get into a bit more detail. What does this renewably powered world look like? Where do we integrate our solar panels, our energy generating surfaces? We often get asked why we think it is important to integrate solar cells in the roof of the car, instead of on the roofs of houses. The short answer is: You will want both. The long answer: Since technology like solar panels and batteries will be very cheap in the future and their source is free, the only costs that remain are the distribution costs and the costs associated with the area where you put the solar panels.
1) Distribution (for example through the grid): The closer you bring your energy source to the location where you need the energy, the lower its cost will be. Eliminate every converter, cable or connector that might act as an intermediate and your energy price will drop significantly. So, going off the grid will pay off. To give an example for the Netherlands: Distribution costs for households are about 6 cents per kilowatt-hour, almost 30% of the energy costs. If the cost of electricity from solar cells drops to a few cents, which is already happening, the distribution cost will far exceed the cost of the electricity itself.
2) Area: Costs associated with the area where you integrate the solar cells can be related to either licences, the price per square meter or the complexity of the integration. You can avoid these costs by using surface area you already own, like your house or car.
That’s why you want the solar cells on your roof AND on your car. It will provide your life with the best affordable and easiest energy source out there. Arguably, an even more important factor is how it enables us to return to a long-lost level of independence. We are building a new energy system, right next to the old one. By directly using the energy from the sun, we will become independent from unpredictable markets. Whatever will happen to the world’s economy, the fuel prices or energy grid, we can always be sure we have the energy to power our cars. Our mission is to bring this stability back to our mobility system.