Photo Credit: Evan Vucci/AP
Over the last decade, the movement towards electric vehicles (EVs) has skyrocketed and is predicted to continue to rise over the next decade. This increase in demand is driven by many factors, but, the at the end of the day, consumers are realizing that EVs provide significant cost and emission savings to the end user – and auto manufacturers are taking note.
This growing demand has sent a clear message to the market; major auto manufacturers are pledging to electrify their fleets as fast as they can.
- Volvo has pledged to be fully electric by 2030.
- GM has is aiming to produce only electric vehicles by 2035.
- Ford will sell only electric vehicles in Europe by 2030 and unveiled its all-electric Ford F-150 truck yesterday with President Biden's visit to Michigan(!). The F-150 is the bestselling car in America.
- Jaguar and Land Rover, and Bentley are all planning on integrating additional EVs into their lineups.
There are also other ways automakers are demonstrating the strength of the environmentally conscious market. GM recently signed a major and first-of-its-kind power purchase agreement (PPA) with First Solar to power 3 manufacturing plants around the United States with solar energy.
In the United States, the coming EV wave is a big step in the right direction; after all, 29% of US emissions are transportation related, and transportation to electric models instead of fossil fuel models will substantially reduce that percentage. But even with growing demand, significant challenges remain. “The green tidal wave doesn’t happen in the U.S. until we have the charging stations to support it,” says Dan Ives, an analyst at Wedbush Securities.
Currently, there are only about 42,000 charging stations nationwide to support fully electric and hybrid vehicles. There are also 287 million registered cars in the U.S. As a hypothetical argument – if all of these were to become electric overnight, where would they charge? There would be over 6,800 cars vying for each charging station. Transportation would come to a standstill.
The hard truth is that there is currently insufficient charging infrastructure to support large-scale EV deployment. Indeed, we are on a tight timeline to develop that infrastructure as rapidly as is needed to scale alongside the anticipated number of EVs on our roads.
Proposed Law Seeks to Bolster EVs as Solar Manufacturers Stand Ready
Thankfully, public policy solutions seem to be catching up with the pace of cleantech innovation.
President Biden’s American Jobs Act proposes 500,000 new charging stations by providing local and state incentives for charging station installations. By making EVs and the accompanying infrastructure a policy priority, we see how seriously the administration is developing solar to be the future of transport. But to make EVs truly a low-carbon transportation solution, they need to be powered by clean energy technologies – and that means clean not only in use, but in their production as well. Afterall, solar technology is supposed to be replacing fossil fuels, not be made with them.
This new generation of EV charging stations should be powered with what we refer to as “Ultra Low-carbon Solar” (ULCS) to align sustainability goals with our pressing energy and transportation needs. ULCS is solar modules and components produced by in energy efficient facilities powered by low-carbon grids. Better energy sources and better manufacturing practices produce ULCS modules with as much as 50% less embodied carbon than “Coal-Fired Solar” – solar modules and components made in coal powered manufacturing operations.
Do we really want to power clean EVs with coal-fired solar panels? Solar manufacturers around the U.S. and Europe already produce Ultra Low-Carbon Solar panels and have the capacity to scale their operations to meet the rising demand. In turn, the U.S. can effectively align its infrastructure policy with its sustainability goals through the use of available.
Clean energy policy shouldn’t be undercut by unsustainable manufacturing processes. Next-generation vehicles should be powered by next-generation solar, Ultra Low-Carbon Solar.