Electric vehicles combined with domestic solar PV can help cut the cost of driving and tackle climate change

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Thu 28 April 2022 View all news

'Zemospective' - Guest Article by Andrew Fraser 

The Chancellor’s Spring Statement contained the welcome announcement that domestic energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions, including solar PV systems, will now attract zero VAT. This long called-for change makes now, particularly at this moment of high energy prices, the ideal time to highlight the great potential of solar PV in conjunction with a plug-in vehicle.  This combination has the ability to cut energy and transport costs, reduce the UK’s dependence on overseas energy sources and help to tackle climate change. (A triple win!)

Electric vehicles have zero tailpipe CO2 emissions, but the grid electricity they use generates some CO2 in its production and transmission.  If a plug-in vehicle is charged with electricity from a domestic solar system, it can provide truly zero-CO2 transport throughout its operation.

Following the VAT cut, a typical 4kW home solar system will now, often, cost less than £6,000 and, if well positioned, can be expected to produce between 3,500-4,000kWh per year.  With an average plug-in vehicle achieving around three miles for every kWh of electricity, such a solar system could deliver around 10-12,000 miles of zero-CO2 driving; more than most motorists cover in a year. 

With an expected 25-year working life, a solar PV system should produce around 80-100,000 kWh of electricity, giving an average cost of only 6-7.5p/kWh - around a quarter of the new electricity price cap rate of 28p/kWh.  If used to run an EV at 3 miles/kWh, this gives a motoring cost of only 2-2.5p/mile - far less than even the most efficient conventional ICE cars, which cost over 12p/mile* to run at current fuel prices.

Once installed and operating, a solar PV system supplying a plug-in vehicle is effectively immune from any further future rises in either the costs of liquid fuel or electricity, giving peace of mind in terms of both motoring costs and environmental impact for up to 25 years – surely a compelling proposition right now! 

With millions of houses in Britain having roofs or other locations suitable for a solar PV system, often combined with off-street parking and charging, there is an opportunity for this combination to make a significant contribution to both tackling CO2 emissions and cutting energy bills.  (Plug-in vehicles, of course, already offer many other ownership cost and practical advantages, including lower tax and VED rates as well as access to restricted zones - CAZ, ULEZ etc - and parking benefits under current regulations.) 

With energy costs at unprecedentedly high levels and the cost of installing domestic solar lower than ever, there’s a compelling case for those with the right properties and the means to plug their EV into solar.


Andrew Fraser CEng, FIMechE is a Technical Consultant with Zemo Partnership

Note: *60mpg hybrid vehicle using unleaded at £1.60/litre = 12.1p/mile fuel cost.



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