Report: Solar industry should team up with electric vehicle companies

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Solar and electric vehicle companies should join forces to boost their chances of market penetration, a report out this week recommends.

Solar and Electric Vehicle Cross-Marketing Strategies from Navigant research found that plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) owners prefer clean renewable power such as solar.

“These customers are prime targets for residential solar installers, as many PEV owners own homes that can accommodate a sufficiently sizable solar array to generate all of the power that their vehicles would consume on an annual basis.

“Historically, the solar energy industry and the automobile industry have operated in separate markets,” said the report. “The convergence of the two technologies represents significant opportunities for players in both spaces – although solar companies may have more to gain.”

For example, in the United States alone, approximately 250,000 homes are equipped with photovoltaic systems (PV). The PEV market sold approximately 52,000 plug-in cars in the United States in 2012, and Navigant Research forecasts that by 2017 there will be 1 million PEVs on US roads.

According to Navigant Research’s 2012 Energy & Environment Consumer Survey, 85% of consumers interested in purchasing an electric vehicle (EV) have favourable or very favorable views toward solar energy.

John Gartner, Navigant analyst and author of the report, told PV Tech: “There are a lot of synergies and commonalities for the consumers who would be interested in buying solar with electric vehicles and vice versa.

“Both industries have the potential if they choose to work together to increase their profile and likelihood that consumers of solar would be interested in an EV, EV marketers could give a pitch towards solar when an EV purchase is being considered is really a good time to do that.”

EVs could also provide battery backup power that could solve the issue of intermittency with solar.

SolarCity already offers a battery unit made by Tesla. The battery could power a house for a few days without charge, or be continuously recharged by a solar system.

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