What the electric car industry can learn from home solar panels

Electric cars are inevitable. While there have been many false starts in the past, the world is heading towards a sustainable future, and the days of petrol and diesel are limited.

Many large car manufacturers, including Toyota and Ford, have set timelines with plans to phase out internal combustion engines and replace them with EV options.

Before the EV industry can become a reality in Australia, many factors need to be considered and enormous amounts of planning undertaken. Thankfully, the successes and failures of the solar panel market will assist in that planning.

Cost cannot be the sole motivating factor 

Solar panels and installation costs have come right down, but the thirst for cheap installations has come at a price. While quality panels are highly affordable, the appetite for cheap options has led to many substandard panels flooding the market and dodgy installers without the proper training and credentials. As a result, Australian homeowners seeking an inexpensive option have been left with inferior, inefficient and sometimes dangerous solar installations.

When the time comes to roll out mass infrastructure for electric vehicles, including charging stations, this lesson must be learned. Inadequate infrastructure and EVs themselves will cause more problems than they solve. There will need to be consideration for safe night-time access, disability access and more. Rolling out a cheap, minimum viable product will lead to significant problems down the road.

Energy Matters is committed to helping Australians get access to solar rooftop solutions at best possible prices. We only recommend the leading panels, and all of our installers have been vetted to ensure they are experienced, licenced and insured.

How will EV infrastructure react to significant disruptions? 

Proper planning will be crucial to the success of the EV network. Australia has enjoyed an enormous decade of solar growth. However, this has created a major problem because the correct planning for network infrastructure wasn’t carried out. As a result, we are now in a position where solar exports could potentially overload networks and damage infrastructure designed to handle electricity generated by coal and gas.

The lesson to be learned here is forward-thinking. What would happen if there was a significant network disruption? If a storm took out transmission lines or even an entire power plant?

We have already reached the point where rule makers, the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC), has already proposed charging homes to export power during peak periods. So what happens when electric vehicles become mainstream? If every single vehicle in Australia were electric, it would add 25 per cent more demand to our national energy network. We cannot make the same mistakes we did with panels – proper planning and infrastructure need to be implemented.

The success or failure of electric vehicles hinges on coordination across the transport, environment, energy, planning and climate change portfolios of government and how they prepare for the rollout.

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