Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Update Month 2, Driving To Net Zero

The idea is a simple one, harvest endless sunshine from a small portion of a roof to provide 100% of the energy needed to power a home and two cars with zero utility cost, and zero gasoline cost.

Solar PV panels on a portion of our homes roof.

  • Month 2, -118 kWh in utility usage, -$162.57 in utility cost.
  • Stats, Stats, Graphs, Graphs. 
  • Solar PV as a transportation fuel.

A sunny two months has put us below the line,
Julie proves she is the more efficient driver.

Our BMW i3's drove 1667 miles using 381 kWh from the wall, 
and 22 kWh from 2 public charging events

GHG reductions for the month for our BMW i3's

Total utility electric use for our home and two i3's

Our BMW i3's used 381 kWh, our home and guest house used 854 kWh.
In the 3-4 summer months, we cool a 450 sq. ft subterranean
wine cellar so the electricity use is higher than normal for those months.

You can live well, and live Net Zero Energy. The cellar 
is cooled primarily by the stable earth temperature of 64 degrees

Our "True Up" bill after six months. You can see the change
 in energy use when we began our Driving To Net Zero challenge
 with the more efficient BMW i3's in May. 

We began our 12 month documented Driving to Net Zero journey on May 15th, 2014 and we're off to a really great first few months. The BMW i3's are proving to be super to drive and very efficient cars.  We each have approximately 2000 miles on the odometers now and we have had zero issues with our i3's to date.

It is possible to live in a house and drive two cars powered by sunshine.  Soon in the next few years, energy storage will become affordable. A household like ours will be able to make and store some or all of our generated energy, both in the cars and in the home energy storage system, further lessening the load on the grid.

July Focus: Sunshine As A Transportation Fuel.

Sunshine is our greatest, most equitable and endless natural resource. Solar PV systems are now blossoming everywhere it seems, like flowers on a sunny spring day. In all fifty states, homeowners, corporations and civic institutions are discovering that harvesting sunshine makes great economic and environmental sense.

I am excited about Solar PV lowering the sting of utility bills. However, the greatest value of Solar PV is when it is used as a transportation fuel which now presents a viable option to help us solve our most vexing national issues caused by our addiction to oil.

What are those issues? National security and defense costs, measured in both blood and dollars. Major cities like San Diego and Los Angeles having unhealthy air quality, with 60% of total emissions coming from the oil we burn in refineries and in our cars and trucks. Our national and family budgets siphoned off by the ever-increasing price of gasoline, as we slowly, voluntarily, export our wealth from our wallets and purses to foreign countries, some that are openly hostile to us.

The inertia of the status quo (oil) is a powerful foe of change. Its strength and certainty comes from the knowledge of today and yesteryear.

Today there are 200,000 plug in cars on the road, approximately 25% of these plug in drivers are making their own fuel for their own car on the rooftops of their own home.  That scares the heck out of the profiteers of the status quo.

They’re doing so at a cost that is 15% of the cost of driving on gasoline and fixed in cost forever as sunshine has never raised its price.  They are showing us the road to the solution of our most vexing national problem, getting off oil.

We think of our ChargePoint CT4000 Charging Station as a "Gas Station" of the future that fills our BMW i3's with sunshine electrons from our roof.  Just as gas stations have had a foundational relationship with oil companies the past 100 years,  I believe that in the next 100 years, Charging Station owners will have a foundational relationship with Solar PV.

It's a large segment of plug in drivers that already drive on Solar PV,  as the prices of Solar PV and EV's continues to fall, more and more will choose to drive on sunshine.

In California, our energy picture contains an ever increasing percentage of rooftop solar, utility solar, wind, geothermal and hydro. The future is looking brighter and cleaner than ever.

You can drive and live on sunshine at very low cost.

This is our actual cost of gasoline and Solar PV in San Diego
as of 7/01/14.  You can further reduce your cost by
approximately 25% with a TOU rate coupled with Solar PV.

Next Month:  Vehicle Charging Stations: past, present and future and a "surprise" from France that will certainly increase our energy usage. 

Thanks as always for reading and commenting.


(Past "Driving To Net Zero" articles)

Energy Challenge Introductory Article
Mid Month Article: The Energy Grid
Update Month 1
Mid Month Article: Does your Gas Station Pay you to fill'er up?

Editor’s Note, Peder is the Chairman of the San Diego County Planning Commission. His wife Julie is Director of Curriculum and Instruction at the Solana Beach School District. They have been Field Trial drivers for BMW for five years. Together since 2009, they have driven 100,000 EV miles powered from roof top solar.

Friday, July 25, 2014

To Mars in the BMW i3

Julie I recently drove to "Mars" in our "Mars Electronaut Rover"

Location is the Badlands of the Anza Borrego Desert between Borrego Springs and the Salton Sea. Temperature was 114 degrees and we drove over 100 miles on one charge, descending from 5,000 to sea level at Palm Desert.

City Car, Phfff!

Thursday, July 24, 2014


"I believe within our lifetime,
all cars will be powered by solar energy"

They're multiplying rapidly!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Does your gas station pay you to fill'er up?

Gas stations get gasoline deliveries set at a certain price per gallon. The stations then sell you the gasoline for a certain price per gallon. Here's the important question.

Do you get paid by the gas station to put gasoline in your cars?
It's a crazy ass question I know, but is it?
Read on...

We get paid to fill up our two electric BMW i3's.
Here's an explanation of how this happens.

We average 400kWh of excess generation delivered by the sun during peak hours each month. We are credited $0.38 per kWh (annual average combining summer and winter rates.)
We use the same 400kWh per month at off peak and super off peak hours at the rate of $0.18 per kWh delivered to our two BMW i3's to drive a collective 1600 miles each month.

The excess generation of 400kWh makes us $152 per month.
The usage of the same 400kWh to drive our two i'3s 1600 miles cost us $72 per month.
This nets us an income of $80 per month.

Our Solar system was installed in 2007 and was fully paid off in April of 2012.

The difference is that gasoline is the same price 24 hours a day and very expensive and heavy to transport. Electricity is priced every 15 minutes and does not require a truck and driver to deliver it to your car or from the sun to your rooftop (that would be a very long drive.)  Generally, electricity is a high priced commodity during peak hours and a low priced commodity in the late night and early morning hours.  Solar PV and Time Of Use (TOU) rates can make that difference in price benefit the system owner and the electric car driver.

our monthly usage for two i3's driven a total of 1600 miles

our electricity generation and usage per month.

You can live and drive on sunshine :) Think about it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

"i" am Beautiful!

I am beautiful.
As if the desert is less attractive than the ocean, 
the future less attractive than the past... 
i am beautiful.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Independence (from gasoline) day!

Happy 4th of July America!

Julie's BMW i3, uses 6 kwh of energy made from sunshine, to drive 28 miles to work in Solana Beach and back. That's the same amount of energy, plus 8 gallons of water, that it takes to refine one gallon of gasoline.

Think about that for a second or two.
Happy Independence Day!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Update Month One, Driving To Net Zero

The idea is a simple one, harvest endless sunshine from a small portion of the roof to provide 100% of the energy needed to power a home and two cars with zero utility cost, and zero gasoline cost.

  • First Month, -24 kwh in net usage, -$149.20 in utility cost
  • Fast, fun and fibrously fantastic, our BMW i3's.
  • ChargePoint  supports "Driving to Net Zero"

The credit is earned because we push energy at peak rates of $0.44 
and pull energy at off peak and super off peak rates of $0.20 and $0.16

The current account balance is less than the remaining credits.
6/15/14 bill was a $149.20 credit added to the previous $28.82

8.5kw Solar PV System (7.5kw installed in 2007)
Paid off with energy and gasoline savings in April, 2012

We began our 12 month documented Driving to Net Zero journey on May 15th, 2014 and we're off to a really great start as you can see in our stats for the first month from May 15th to June 15th.

We are living in a historic time of great technological advancement where:

(1) Solar PV has become affordable.

(2) Electric cars are affordable with plenty of choices.
(3) Our homes, appliances, computers and gadgets are all more efficient, connected and smart.

(4) You can choose to make your own transportation fuel on your roof, replacing gasoline.

Add these four ingredients, stir well, and you change the world of energy and transportation forever.  "A better future is made with a better recipe, not just more cooking."

The first item to tackle in "Driving to Net Zero" is efficiency. It is far cheaper to save kilowatts than it is to make them. Energy efficiency in the home is a very well known prerequisite for savings.  Just like the LED light bulb that is 1/7th the energy use of an incandescent light bulb, we now have cars that use 1/5th the energy of a typical new car to travel the same distance.  

Our two BMW i3’s use 1/5 the energy of a typical car and they’re fun, fast and fibrously fantastic. The BMW i3 has a US leading EPA rating of 124 MPGe.  The i3's are crazy quick off the line, nimble, toss-able, stuff-able and simply amazing to drive, stitched together in a heretofore impossible combination of performance, luxury, safety and efficiency. 

In "Driving to Net Zero" an efficient home and the most efficient cars are required ingredients. The "most efficient" can also mean the most enjoyable, the most livable and the most premium to drive, as efficiency in our lives is additive, not punitive.

The second item on the loading order for " Driving to Net Zero" is computational power, communications, and smart data. If we can measure it, we can improve it.

We know the terms smart grid and smart house.  In the past few years our utilities have swapped out our "dumb meters" and installed "smart meters" as a precursor to the future.  A future where our smart appliances will communicate with the energy grid under our direction and optimize the times when they operate saving the homeowner money. For electric cars, the vast majority of home charging stations are still "dumb chargers" in a smart house.  

Why is this energy information important? Can you imagine not being able to see your bank account or credit card data? How would you know how to budget and spend/save your money? Energy is no different. When we can see our energy data, we can manage our energy, we can make informed decisions and we can save money.  

An electric car driven typical miles in a year can use 50% of the electricity of a typical house.  A household like ours, with two electric cars can use more electricity for the cars, than for the house. With that high of electricity use for the cars ( still about 1/5 the energy cost of gasoline)  it's very important to be able to see your overall usage and time of use with a data connected smart charging station.

We are thrilled that ChargePoint, the largest EV charging network with over 18,000 charging locations has chosen to partner with us in monitoring our "Driving to Net Zero" energy challenge.

ChargePoint is lending us a CT4000 dual head wall mounted charging station for 12 months. The newest tech from ChargePoint has two ports so we can charge our BMW i3's simultaneously. With ChargePoint’s data and analytics we can also track the exact energy usage and length that we’re plugged and measure things like greenhouse gases avoided. ChargePoint measures all those figures across their network as well – so far after 5 million sessions drivers have saved 4.5 million gallons of gas.

So we're off! We look forward to updating you each month on our energy progress and overall driving experience on our journey "Driving to Net Zero.  During this past month after announcing our "Driving to Net Zero" journey and challenge,  we have heard from dozens of homeowners and EV drivers who are on the same path, eliminating their utility and gasoline bills, and discovering the beautiful combination of affordable solar PV and electric cars.  

Our goal is to promote this way of living and way of driving as a "better recipe" for our planet as compared to  burning fossil fuels in our power-plants and in the less efficient gasoline engines of cars. Thanks for reading and commenting.  

We expect even better results next month.


For previous post click here. 

Editor’s Note, Peder is the Chairman of the San Diego County Planning Commission. His wife Julie is Director of Curriculum and Instruction at the Solana Beach School District. They have been Felid Trial drivers for BMW for five years. Together since 2009, they have driven 95,000 EV miles powered from roof top solar.