Solar energy for electric vehicles

Solar panels on carports is hardly a new idea in itself. New Jersey’s William G Mennen Sports Arena followed a similar model and a proposed net-zero energy community at the University of California at Davis will make extensive use of the concept.

GE, however, took the next step of attaching the carport’s solar panels to six of the company’s charging stations. The system is connected to the grid, so none of the energy will ever be wasted, but at peak capacity the carport could charge as many as 13 electric vehicles per day.

"This exciting project will be a blueprint for people all around the country who are interested in developing this type of green solar charging technology, linking renewable energy with electric vehicles and making our lives cleaner and greener," Connecticut Governor Dannell Malloy said in a statement.

These types of carports currently fill a small role, as the market for electric cars remains small, with less than 60,000 in use in 2008, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Even hybrids amount to only 2.42 percent of the total market, but the introduction of the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt could change this number somewhat.