• Caoilin Rafferty
  • 4 min read

Meet early adaptor Keith who has been driving electric cars since 2012 and has also installed Solar PV on his roof

Keith outside his home in Finglas, Dublin
Keith outside his home in Finglas, Dublin

Deciding on Solar PV

Keith Carney lives in Finglas with this wife and two children. In 2015, he bought a semi-detached house which, at the time, had a building energy rating of D2.

Since then, he has built an extension and carried out extensive energy efficiency works that has brought his home from a D2 to a B rating.

Before starting the work on his extension, Keith researched Solar Photovoltaics panels. As a Building Surveyor, he was already aware his home had the required features such as slope, orientation and coverage on his roof.

Keith decided to go with solar PV over solar thermal panels. He says, “On sunny days, my 200-litre tank is full of hot water already by 11.30am and if I got solar thermal I would have only got hot water and everything else would of gone to waste. Whereas at least now I have a full tank of hot water and I am still generating power for the house and it allows me to add a battery in the future for off grid use”.

Keith made sure to get three quotes before selecting a contractor and was fortunate enough to get a reduced price due to building work already in place.

“There was no grant available at the time of my installation but as I had the roof removed due to an attic conversion, the prep work was already there with regards to access such as rafter exposure and scaffolding for the workers”, says Keith.

No looking back!

There has been no looking back for Keith. Since installing the panels, he says; “I love it. It’s nice to know that we are making a small difference. We go at least 7 -8 months of the year without having to heat the water using any fossil fuel. We also fitted an immersion diverter which takes surplus power generated and diverts it to the immersion before giving it back to the National Grid for free”.

Keith has noticed a significant reduction in the  number of units used in his ESB bill and estimates his payback on the panels will be approx. 10 years.

Buying an Electric Car

Keith charging his electric car
Keith charging his electric car

The combination of solar and EV

Keith started using an electric car in 2012 when his workplace introduced them as company vehicles. He really enjoyed the ‘driving electric’ experience and so in 2016, he decided to buy a second-hand leaf for the family. Since then, he has upgraded to a BMW I3

“It’s cleaner motoring and creates less pollution in the city”, says Keith.

With regards common questions he is asked, he notes that there is still a fear over the distance you can cover in an EV, also known as ‘range anxiety’, “There is still a perception that you can’t drive from Dublin to Cork in an electric car, but with the new models you don’t have to worry about this as much”.

With regards advice to others, he says, “no point giving up a good car for the sake of buying an electric car. If you are swapping anyway then it might be a good time to see what is out there”.

He also noticed too that children in the area are very aware he drives an electric car. “Kids on the estate think it’s cool because they are learning all about climate change in school”.

If you can generate enough power from PV on your roof this could be an effective way of also powering your electric car with the use of a battery storage. This is an emerging technology that is undergoing rapid development.

Keith has a 3-kilowatt Solar PV system on his roof. “This allows me in the future to install a smart EV charger that takes excess power generation and diverts it to the car”, he says.

While Keith acknowledges he is not saving the world he does feel he is playing his part in the larger picture.

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