Who should take the lead on Solar Charging?

Written By: EightySix

One Less Pump at the “Solar Gas Station”

Solar panels capturing sun rays under the clear sky

"Range anxiety" was a meaningless pair of words before electric cars returned to the market. Now it's a buzz term to describe that sinking feeling your battery will die, leaving you stranded miles from a charging station.

In the Alaskan wilderness or the Australian Outback, drivers of gas-powered vehicles have range anxiety. Why? Because fueling stations are so far apart.

Most drivers are accustomed to finding gas stations on every corner and along the highway. Unless you're on an extreme adventure, you never worry where your next tank is coming from.

All gasoline is dirty. Not all electricity is clean. Solar power is the most direct way to produce non-polluting wattage for your car. Public solar carports with charging stations make perfect sense. But they don't build themselves and, although savings versus the grid could pay for the project, they aren't free.

Who Will Run With This Ball?

Someone needs to take the lead. One way or another, solar charging stations should be increasingly more common.

Why not the gas stations? They're already in convenient locations. The oil companies have the money. The pumps are already covered with a canopy. Put solar panels over the pumps and on the roof of the mini-mart. Put up a couple plug-in stations and charge us. It will be cheaper than the equivalent in gasoline and we'll be happy.

Imagine this commercial: An aerial view of a shiny solar array atop a gas station. Show the sign and logo. Zoom in to a technician removing a gas pump and replacing it with an electric charger.

Boom. Rather than being an environmental villain, that company is a hero. Replace more pumps as EVs grow in popularity. When the market shifts away from gasoline, that company is one step ahead.

The Big Problem

Regular gas station - not the place for solar charging

How long do you spend at the gas station? A few minutes and then you're gone. Depending on the car and charger, you might be there twenty minutes to a couple of hours. This is not good flow for a gas station. That store is not prepared for such slow turnover.

But whose customers typically stay for a couple hours? Restaurants. You can have a nice meal in the time it takes to charge your EV.

Imagine a national restaurant chain in a major green market like California. Partner with a solar provider who would be happy for the publicity. Build a solar carport and put panels on the restaurant roof. Add charging stations. Make them complimentary for restaurant guests. Offer a free dessert.

That chain would become one of the good guys. It would drive sales. Even if no one charged there and business did not improve, they would get cheap clean solar power.

My Electric Road Trip

solar panels on building roof top - why don't we see more?

Hotel and motel chains should do the same. Who wants to become the most EV-friendly place to stay across the country? Free charging with room rental. And once you're down the road? Catch a free charge at the next franchise. Who will you choose to stay with?

Movie theaters have the same motivation. Stop in and catch a flick while you charge up. Entertainment of all sorts, from zoos to museums, should be tempting consumers with gleaming panels and complimentary plugs.

Bananas, Milk and Electricity, Please

Supermarkets have broad parking lots and roofs for catching rays. Plus, we're already there to buy stuff. Park at the metered charger. When you come out with a full cart, pay with your credit card. Swipe your club card and get a few pennies off each kilowatt.

And again, solar powered supermarkets benefit themselves. The power bill for all the coolers and lights will shrink even if business from EV owners doesn't grow.

Liability is still an issue. Park at your own risk? Who's responsible if your car is burglarized while charging?

The Chicken or the Egg?

Stone resembling DINOSAUR egg. Or that of a giant chicken?

Do we need more EVs before charging becomes commonplace? Or will people buy more EVs after charging becomes prevalent? Are businesses waiting for the traffic before they provide the juice?

Which came first: the chicken or the egg? The old saying is flawed. The egg came first. That's what dinosaurs were hatching from millions of years before chickens.

In this case, solar power is the egg. Disregarding electric cars, we need more solar power. Big businesses that can afford the upfront costs need to step up and solarize. They will save money and pollute less. The demand will promote the growth of the solar business and drive down the cost of materials.

Charging cars with that power is pure bonus.

Businesses take a stand for cancer awareness. They promote exercise for the youth. They fight hunger.

Who will take a stand for electric vehicles and clean power? Don't even do it for the world. It will be good for business.