Our man’s inspiring display of the potential for solar-generated power
By Gavin Conway on September 16, 2011 5:48 PM
It’s no secret that Robert Llewellyn is a huge fan of electric cars and an eloquent defender of the cause. But actions speak louder than words, and Robert has brilliantly demonstrated how much economic (and environmental) sense an electric vehicle can make.
The headline news here is that he has managed to cover 1,000 miles in his pure-electric Nissan LEAF at an equivalent cost of just £5.38, or about two pints of bitter in your classier local. Put another way, if his LEAF were a petrol car, he’d be getting over 1,000mpg.
Here’s how he did it – about three months ago, Robert had solar panels installed by British Gas on the roof of his home office. He then kept careful records of how much energy the panels generated and how much of that he used to charge the car. To date, he reckons that a staggering 85% of the energy used to charge his car has been solar generated.
British Gas reckons that to cover the same 1,000 miles in a petrol-powered car would cost £150 – and we think that figure is on the low side. Either way, that’s a colossal saving.
That’s great, but there are some other numbers you need to know about. First of all, the cost of a solar installation like Robert’s from British Gas is £11,500. With the average driver travelling 12,000 miles per year, an electric car owner with a solar array of this size can expect to save over £1,736 on petrol costs.
There’s more good news in that you can actually get paid for excess power generated by your panels, which is fed back into the grid – British Gas estimates that the above installation would return you £1,055 per year, meaning your total benefit with petrol saving would be £2,791 per year. That means your solar panels will pay for themselves in just over four years.
OK, we’re still talking about a lot of upfront cash here, with the £11,500 for the panels on top of the cost of the car. But there is a way to get around the cost of solar panels with a scheme from British Gas that gets you a free solar panel installation if you forgo the payment for excess electricity generation.
So, if you’ve got a suitable house, an EV-friendly driving routine and you fancy never visiting a petrol station again, do the sums and you might be pleasantly surprised.
You can catch Robert's entertaining Nissan LEAF diary in the Opinion section - click here.