22 June 2020 04:38
Dutch startup Lightyear plans to launch an electric car powered by a combination of solar panels and batteries. That car isn't quite ready for production yet, but Lightyear is testing its solar tech on modified Tesla Model 3 sedans. Lightyear has two of these Tesla research vehicles, numbered 005 and 006, as well as a solar-equipped Volkswagen Crafter van. These vehicles started testing this week on public roads around Lightyear's hometown of Helmond, The Netherlands, the company said in a press release. As the cars are driven, they will measure solar yield to find out how much usable energy the roof-mounted panels are generating.
Tesla Model 3 modified by Lightyear for solar roof testing Lightyear was formed by former members of a World Solar Challenge team and aims to bring some of that expertise to a production vehicle. Lightyear previously said the solar roof could account for 70% to 90% of annual mileage, minimizing the need for plugging in—a claim that sounds like a serious engineering challenge even given improved solar efficiencies. While other automakers have experimented with solar roofs, Lightyear claims its car is optimized for that. The startup also claims the Lightyear One will be the most aerodynamic car on the market, with a drag coefficient (Cd) below 0.20. Can you charge an electric vehicle like the Tesla Model 3 exclusively with solar power?
Tesla declared, via blog post on Friday, that it is "introducing the lowest-ever cost to go solar" in the U.S. The company claims that its average residential system size is now one-third less expensive than the market average. So — Tesla is presumably promising a cost of about $1.89/W installed, before incentives. Tesla claims that with its new pricing, "an average customer buying a large system in California will make their money back in only six years by reducing their electric bill, ultimately making an average of $88,000 over the system's lifetime [depending on financing method]." Tesla claims that its new pricing is possible because of a 64% reduction in sales and marketing costs from moving to fixed solar system sizes and its "single click" online ordering experience. Tesla recommends a solar system Based on my home address and a hypothetical $300 per month electric bill, Tesla's website recommended its "large" PV system at 12.24 kW and priced the solar at $23,500 or $17,390 after incentives. That's $1.42/W after incentives — a good price for residential solar in the U.S. I live in a rural spot and Pacific Gas & Electric is my utility — so I need energy storage.
Tesla recommends three Powerwalls to give me a 9-day backup at a total system cost of $44,000 — or $32,560 after incentives. The price quote claims that the backup "includes plugs, lights, 120V appliances, and some 240V appliances." "Ludicrous and full of pitfalls" Although these are great price-per-watt numbers, a solar installer colleague said that Tesla's new process is "ludicrous and full of pitfalls for consumers." She said that Tesla: Oversizes the solar systems Plus the customer will get a system that is much bigger than they need, and would likely be rejected by the local utility for being so substantially oversized." Tesla installed 35 MW of solar in Q1, down 35% from the 54 MW installed in Q4 2019, and down 26% from Q1 2019's mark of 47 MW. Tesla has decimated its solar business from installation peaks of years past and its market share lead has long been surrendered to Sunrun and others. The innovative Dutch startup Lightyear is on a mission to produce a solar-powered vehicle called the Lightyear One, which is expected to have a range of around 450 miles, although at a price in excess of $150,000. As part of its journey to readying such a vehicle, Lightyear has now fitted solar roof panels to another vehicle that doesn't draw its energy from a conventional combustion engine: the Tesla Model 3. The Model 3 is one of two new research vehicles employed by Lightyear to test its technology. Of course, solar roof panels have been seen before, but not utilized on a vehicle to the extent that Lightyear is planning for. For instance, the available solar roof panels on the new Hyundai Sonata Hybrid can only add around two miles of range per day. Tesla announced in a blog post on Friday that it has slashed the price for its solar panels to one-third less than the industry's average cost. "Today we are introducing the lowest-ever cost to go solar in the United States," the company wrote. "Our average system size is now one-third less expensive than the industry average and we have recently introduced a lowest-price guarantee. According to a report by the Solar Energy Industries Association, the average cost for a residential solar panel system in the first quarter of 2020 was $2.83 per watt while a non-residential system was $1.36 per watt. Before federal tax incentives, Tesla's "small" system now costs $10,000 for 4.1 kilowatts of power, or $2.44 per watt, while its "medium" system costs $16,000 for 8.2 kilowatts of power, or $1.95 per watt. After federal tax incentives, the total cost comes out to $7,400 for a small system, $11,840 for a medium system, $17,390 for a large system and 22,200 for an extra large system. TESLA CANCELING SOLAR ROOF ORDERS FOR SOME CUSTOMERS WHO ALREADY PAID: REPORT The new pricing was made available through Tesla's savings from moving to fixed sizes after more than 80 percent of Tesla Solar customers were found to select the recommended standard size as well as a 64 percent cut in Tesla's sales and marketing costs after moving to digital. "With our new pricing, an average customer buying a large system in California will make their money back in only six years by reducing their electric bill, ultimately making an average of $88,000 over the system's lifetime," the company said. In addition to making solar more affordable for consumers, Tesla was also able to use the savings to make software improvements. "Our internal software platform now automates solar panel placement for energy optimization on a roof, significantly reducing the time needed to design a new system," the company said. "We also continue to invest in core technologies that raise the efficiency of our solar systems, including new premium panels with higher power and efficiency, as well as integrated software and hardware that reduces the cost of solar interconnection and makes pairing solar with Powerwall easier than ever." Tesla installed 35 megawatts of solar in the first quarter, down 35 percent from the 54 megawatts installed in the fourth quarter of 2019 and down 26 percent from last year's 47 megwatts, according to the company's latest earnings report. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ON FOX BUSINESS