Electric Vehicles That ‘Run on Sun’ Are Here in Ireland
Driving an Electric Vehicle (EV) has elevated 35-year old Kevin Dowling’s driving time behind the wheel to an ‘out of world’ experience. Kevin’s decision to drive electric comes down to three key factors 1) it’s cool 2) it’s climate friendly and 3) it’s cheaper to run.
The day Tesla announced the arrival of the Tesla 3 model in Ireland was the day Kevin decided to buy his first EV. Having researched the assortment of high-tech electric vehicles on the market, he knew this was the one for him.
“There’s a lot less to deal with as an EV driver, even if your diesel has an automatic gearbox. The big difference I notice is the instant access to torque and the silence from it, bar the tyres rolling on the ground. There is almost no cost long-term outside of electricity, cleaning and tyres and there is minimal maintenance required for an EV,” Kevin explains.
Kevin, a Sales Director at HubSpot, is conscious about the impact his energy choices have on the climate and six months after buying the EV, he decided to install a home-charger and solar panels on his roof. The 10,400w solar PV panels, feed into a diverter & 5kWh battery on the house so he can power up his EV using renewable electricity.
“Genuinely, they’ve made things easier and more cost effective. I’m a bit of an a-typical tech nerd, so I’m always keeping up to date on new trends, new technologies and news from the world of renewables and EVs,” he says.
Maintaining that “this is easily one of the nicest cars I’ve driven. Heated seats, incredible sound system, panoramic glass throughout and a very easy-to-use interface make it a great all-rounder. Moreover, the driving is out of this world. The torque from the two motors and big battery make this a lot of fun to drive.”
“We got the SEAI grant for the car itself plus grants for the home-charger and solar PV. The panels, after the grant, should break even on our normal bill cycle in 4-5 years. The biggest saving will be the cost of electricity, which for us is now basically free as we’ve installed solar panels on the house. Our car can now run on the sun!” he proudly adds.
“What freaks people out is lifestyle change, people worry about the car battery degrading quickly - it won’t drop off a cliff – EV batteries have sophisticated technology,” Kevin explains.
Charging Up His EV
Kevin primarily uses the EV as a family car and regularly drives down to see his in-laws in Cork. Although he doesn’t use the EV to commute to work “being so cheap, clean and efficient, it encourages us to use it a bit more for day trips.”
Charging has never been an issue for him going long distances. His EV can make the full journey from Dublin to Cork on the home-charger but there are options en-route “to go via an IONITY or Tesla SuperCharger location to fast-charge the car”, adding that “the car can make it the full distance to Cork (which would be our longest regular trip), but my bladder won’t make it that far!”
“One interesting change is that I will ensure I book destinations with chargers on route; and the list of hotels etc. that have them is enormous. On our trip down to Cork we were able to use the free charger in the hotel carpark which was infinitely easier to deal with than finding a petrol station somewhere,” he adds.
Kevin believes the biggest barrier for people is “the taboo about small batteries, ineffective charging on public infrastructure and an EV being ‘a second car’ for a family only. This is just no longer true in 2020, It’s a great time to get an EV, even a cheaper second-hand one.”
“What freaks people out is lifestyle change, people worry about the car battery degrading quickly - it won’t drop off a cliff – EV batteries have sophisticated technology,” Kevin tells us.
Home Energy Upgrades
Not only do the solar panels charge up his EV but they will also ensure Kevin and his wife can power up daily household appliances. Kevin is actively trying to improve the Building Energy Rating (BER) of his home and hopes these additional upgrades will increase his BER from a C3 to a C1 or B3. Next on his energy upgrade list is the removal of gas entirely from him home.
Sustainability has been a part of Kevin’s life since he was a child, and this has instilled a desire in him to make sustainable energy choices that contribute positively to the climate.
“Growing up my family were pretty early adopters to recycling; back in the days when you had to go to a Recycling Centre yourself (before the green bin!). I think that helped instill a genuine desire to do the basics where possible. But now that I own my own home and am about to become a father, it’s become more important to me to be conscious of my contributions to a positive movement,” he concludes.