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EVs and clean vehicles are part of the transportation-energy-carbon nexus

Solar arrays over parking structures
Solar arrays over parking structures
flickr

When we take a broader view of addressing climate change, electric vehicles (EVs) are part of the solution. Addressing public health by minimizing air pollution, utilizing cleaner renewable energy generation, and reducing carbon emissions - EVs are not just about sales and the number of drivers on the roads. Electric transit modes need to be approached comprehensively: evaluate energy consumption and create the systems to provide less reliance on foreign oil, address environmental concerns (for example: net-zero emissions), pricing, public education, adoption & incentives, regulation, and, most importantly, charging infrastructure. Electric transportation and alternative vehicles also create jobs, provide research opportunities, and expand on education offerings by training the future scientists and workforce.

Transportation infrastructure planing is linked to many factors: energy, lifestyles, diverse consumer choices, cost, convenience, and additional benefits, such as telematics, safety systems, connectivity, and other various features.

Efficient and economic-viable transportation infrastructure is part of the Smart City concept. Facing urban transportation congestion, many municipalities have made mobility a high priority, as new forms of travel and an increased number of the workforce that demands safe, affordable, and sustainable transportation. In fact, today, while denser urban clusters emerge, the cost of living in the city has gone up and there’s a growing number of employees who live outside the geographical area of their place of work. The Smart City concept includes Intelligent Transportation Systems that utilizes data capture and analytics models, as well as Smart EV charging.

The most effective way to reduce carbon emissions is to reduce fossil fuel consumption. There are several strategies for reducing Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions as a result of traditional energy generation, which inclcude renewable sources, like solar and wind, and that apply to homes, businesses, industry, and transportation.

Smart EV charging is closely linked to renewable energy. Integrating renewable energy sources, the electric grid, battery storage, and management and monitoring systems have already been put together in several pilots. While municipalities struggle to reduce their rising electricity costs and carbon footprints, several communities across the nation have been expanding their solar and wind power generation. There is a strong interest in combining solar generation with electric vehicle charging, in particular off-grid charging, where generation is not tied to the grid.

For example, in the Boston metropolitan area, cities and towns are part of an initiative to purchase renewable energy generated from solar systems that would be developed on parking lots, community facilities (like school) rooftops, other publicly-owned spaces in those communities, as well as in landfills. Such projects are more efficient and address economies of scale and give a greater buying power to the participating municipalities. There are additional benefits to these municipalities: the development of new or retrofitted parking lots, developing landfills, and also address under-utilized community redevelopments. Local businesses and residents will also benefit from this cross-community collaboration. Read more here.

Businesses and utilities are also collaborating to to build a more energy efficient future.
The SolarCurrents canopy project is an example of a major solar undertaking of DTE Energy (Michigan) and Ford. The project encompasses Michigan's largest solar platform to be funded by DTE, which will be built, operated and maintained for 20 years at Ford's Headquarters. The solar canopy project will generate 1.038 MW of electricity through 360 covered parking spots and 30 charging stations for plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs).

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

1. Navigant Research - The Top Ten Predictions for electric vehicles in 2014 (Q1):
http://www.navigantresearch.com/newsroom/electric-vehicle-manufacturers-...

2. Carbon footprint in the U.S. - In 2012, carbon emissions from transportation accounted for about 28% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. CO2 emissions from transportation have increased by about 18% since 1990. Learn more about Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Transportation.
- Click for the projected GHG emissions to 2020: U.S. Climate Action Report 2010 (PDF)
- More information on the EPA (the federal Environmental Protection Agency) website:
http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/sources/transportation.html

3. Plug In conferences are organized by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), a highly regarded organization which has done an extensive research in the Electric Transportation space. The institute conducts research and development on vehicle and infrastructure technologies that enable the use of electricity as a transportation fuel.
Plug-In Annual Conference website: http://www.plugin2014.com