One of the great hopes behind electrified vehicles is reduced dependence of not only foreign oil, but all polluting energy sources. In a step towards that greater goal, Ford announced that they have teamed up with solar energy panel manufacturer SunPower. While not the first domestic manufacturer to team up with a solar energy provider (GM recently announced a $7.5million investment in Sunlogics), they are the first to provide a customer-centric solution towards decreased grid-dependence.
The fruit of the team up is a rooftop solar system designed to provide Focus Electric owners enough renewable energy to offset the electricity used for charging. The 2.5Kw SunPower system is projected to provide 3000 kilowatt hours of energy annually.
“Under the ‘Drive Green for Life’ program, Focus Electric owners can reduce their total cost of ownership by generating enough energy from their high efficiency SunPower rooftop solar system to offset the electricity required to charge the vehicle at night,” said Mike Tinskey, Ford director of Global Vehicle Electrification and Infrastructure. “It’s an eco-friendly solution that perfectly complements our plug-in products and other green initiatives.”
The panels are sized to provide approximately 1000 miles of driving for an average customer. Ford and SunPower intend the system to be an offset to customer’s charging needs, and would provide renewable energy back to the grid when they are charging during the day.
The SunPower E18 panel at the heart of the system is touted by the company as being 50% more efficient than competitive systems. The total panel conversion by the E18 panel is 18.5%, which makes it a competitive solution to most of its current competitors in the home solar market.
The complete SunPower solar system is offered at a base price of less than $10,000, after federal tax credits. Local and state rebates, along with other incentives, may drive the system cost down even more, depending on a customer’s location. Included in the purchase is a residential monitoring system, which includes the ability to track the performance of their solar system on the web or through an iPhone application.
For the coin consumers won’t be saving money in a direct comparison with just buying a gasoline powered Focus, but that isn’t the point. The goal of the project is to spur interest in home solar initiatives as being directly related to plug in driving. As the cost of solar systems continue to drop more of these home systems would make plug in motoring a truly green alternative.
SunPower has worked with other automakers in the past, putting the largest rooftop solar installation in North America on Toyota’s North American Part Center California.