How to Match Your Electric Vehicle Charging With 100% Renewable Energy
When it comes to minimizing the environmental impact of your commute, electric vehicles deliver power much more efficiently than internal combustion cars, and with zero tailpipe emissions. Put simply, a higher percentage of the vehicle’s stored energy – in this case, electrical charge – goes into making tractive power instead of being exhausted as waste heat or noise, and EVs don’t emit anything of ecological consequence because, well, they don’t burn anything.
We all know this. Yet even still, we all have to live with the knowledge that our EVs are only as “clean” as the power plants generating the electricity we use to charge them. Unfortunately, the US power grid still isn’t 100% clean. Natural gas is currently the largest single energy source for power generation in the US, and while it’s a cleaner-burning alternative to the US’s next-biggest source, coal, its consumption still releases significant quantities of carbon and nitrous oxides. Arguably worse, harvesting natural gas can release methane into the atmosphere – an especially potent greenhouse gas that’s 86 times more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period.
At the end of the day, being an EV owner can feel a bit like you’re waiting for the power grid to catch up and clean up. It’s a frustrating conundrum, feeling as though even your “green” car is contributing to the problem every time you recharge. But thankfully, EV charging solutions provider Enel X Way has a solution: JuiceEco.
We’ve already written about Enel X Way’s excellent line of elegant, WiFi-connected JuiceBox home EV charging stations. The company’s JuiceEco program is for owners of the JuiceBox 32, JuiceBox 40, and JuiceBox 48 models. Here’s how it works: you select a yearly contract based on how many miles you drive in a typical year – 10,000 miles, 15,000 miles, or 20,000 miles – and pay an amount proportional to that distance. In return, you get a Renewable Energy Certificate, and the money you’ve paid goes on to help create a second revenue stream for renewable energy generators. That revenue stream contributes to increased clean energy demand and helps support future renewable energy projects such as wind and solar farms, so that even if you live in a part of the country where you have no choice but to draw on electricity generated from coal or natural gas to recharge your EV, you’re effectively off-setting that impact.
Think of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) sort of like a counterpart to carbon offset credits. With carbon offset credits, entities – primarily businesses – can earn and trade credits equivalent to one metric ton’s worth of carbon dioxide emissions. Similarly, an REC represents the net social and environmental benefits of a Megawatt-Hour of clean electricity. RECs are certified by Green-e Energy, the authoritative global standard on clean energy and carbon offsets, so each Renewable Energy Certificate carries some actual weight. The JuiceEco REC program is available exclusively through Enel X Way, making the JuiceBox series of home EV chargers all the more appealing if you take to heart your responsibility to minimize your environmental impact.
If you’re really looking to minimize your impact, there are of course additional things you can do. A home solar installation is one such option, and it’s one that is gaining in popularity as do-it-yourself home solar kits are becoming more broadly available. What’s more, since you’re not directly purchasing power for your own EV when you buy into Enel X Way’s JuiceEco program, RECs are perfectly compatible with using your own solar to recharge your car – although a solar system requires a large investment which may be difficult for some consumers.
Another thing to consider: the time of day that you choose to recharge your EV has an effect on the environmental impact. Here, a bit of a balancing act is required; electricity is most often cheapest at night, when there is less demand on the grid. At the same time, this is often the most damaging time to recharge in an environmental sense, as nighttime is precisely when many utility companies – particularly in the Midwest – like to generate power solely off of coal. Finding that “sweet spot,” or the time of day when electricity prices are acceptably low but utilities haven’t yet switched over to fossil fuels, might take a bit of research.
Ultimately, no matter what other impact-reducing actions you might decide to take, Enel X Way’s JuiceEco program is the one simple, no-hassle thing every EV driver can do to match their vehicle’s charging with 100% renewable energy.