COMMENT: Could the sun be the de-carbonising game changer?

By Chris Wright | 24 June 2015

Charge the car from solar panels by day, feed house from car at night

Charge the car from solar panels by day, feed house from car at night

One of the main points coming across at the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership conference in London today (24 June) was the future of environmentally friendly motoring is not simply about getting people into electric vehicles or hybrids - it's about de-carbonising the whole supply chain - well to wheel and all.

Coal is a complete no-no for the future, particularly since the G7 declared fossil fuels must be phased out by the end of the century and reduced by 70% by 2050 - that's only 35 years away. Put into perspective, we have already been talking about the possibility of fuel cells for 25 years and they are still not with us.

Hydrogen is an obvious alternative, but the infrastructure is nowhere near, electric cars are with us and appear to be the most likely stop-gap except much of the electricity required for charging is generated by coal fired power stations, in which case they are not 'green'. Nuclear power stations? Clean but expensive and people don't want one on their doorstep - talk to anyone who lived near Chernobyl or Fukushima about that.

Oil will remain with us for a while, but obviously a fossil fuel, and will remain volatile price wise particularly as the US shale gas rush is not panning out as expected. What we need is a game-changer.

Could it be the sun?

Not as strange as it may seem, particularly as solar energy and batteries are developed. It was a thought provoking idea put forward at the conference by climate policy expert Jeremy Leggett, a green energy entrepreneur, author and activist who founded Solarcentury, the UK's largest independent solar electric company.

You could, say, charge your car by day from the solar panels which, of course, only work in daylight. But what if energy stored in the car could then be channelled back into the house during the hours of darkness? 

So, you can get free energy from the sun. Put power back, save or even make money...

What's not to like?

That's a game changer.