The future. The woman looks back at her home and smiles as she takes in the early morning sun, remembering that the sun brings her all the power she needs for her home and her vehicle, thanks to the solar cells built into the tiles of the roof.
As the time for work nears, the garage door opens and her vehicle disconnects itself from its charger and glides out to the front of the home. Heading onto the highway, green hills ease the mind with the occasional wind turbine silently turning in the morning breeze. Below the turbine, the field is dotted with alternating pasture land and bands of solar panels glistening in the sun.
The days when humanity had to burn things to generate power are a distant memory. As the car glides up to the curb, the passengers exit and the car heads to the nearby charger to top up, always ready with a full charge for the next trip.
Solutions for the Masses
This future is not something reserved for the elite few, but is available to mainstream consumers with numerous affordable electric vehicles available from established car manufacturers around the world. As the price of the batteries that power them have fallen over the last 10 years, prices have improved and range has increased, especially in the last 3 years.
Battery pricing has reached the tipping point that puts electric vehicles at or below the same cost of ownership as internal combustion vehicles in many countries. In March of 2018, more than 37% of all the new cars sold in Norway were fully-electric vehicles and other countries are following suit as a means of establishing energy freedom from politically unstable oil, among other benefits.
The useful life of electric vehicle batteries is expected to be 10-15 years after which the batteries still hold significant value to be used as stationary energy storage devices in homes and businesses or to be stripped down and recycled.
The cost of solar and wind generation have also fallen precipitously, even from where they were just a few short years ago. In many markets, the cost of a rooftop solar system over its lifetime is already far below the cost of electricity from the grid.
The cost of photovoltaic solar systems is forecasted to fall by 59%, according to a June 2016 International Renewable Energy Agency report on the matter. Onshore wind is expected to drop 26% while the more lucrative offshore wind is expected to drop an impressive 35% by 2025, making utility scale wind farms much more attractive, even when compared to the competitive prices it brings today.
A Fully Connected Life
Ultimately, the future we envision involves more time for us. It means less time working and doing chores around the house. It means cleaner air and quieter cities. We dream of vehicles that know our schedule before we do, that run us around town while we read, watch a show, or sleep.
Smartphones have become productivity tools for billions around the world, putting the equivalent computing power of supercomputers from only a few years into a device that almost fits into our pockets. It’s not just smartphones that are connected, now everything is connected. We can see who is at the front door of our home from work, turn on the bedroom light from around the world and even start the coffeemaker remotely.
Our cars are no exception to the trend with connected cars that receive software and firmware updates over the air, bringing new features with every update, getting better with time instead of the constant deterioration that internal combustion vehicles made us believe was the norm. Our cars now tell us when they need to visit the service center and even let the manufacturer know.
We are no longer enslaved to the things that only exist to make our lives easier. One innovation at a time, technology is helping humanity dig its way out of the constant need to be productive and giving back more personal time.
As our vehicles drink in electricity from the sun on a charger at work, it is smart enough to charge only when electricity is cheap or only when the wind is blowing, the sun, shining. We can choose the carbon footprint of our vehicles on the fly, day to day or just set it and forget it, with the charger left to do all the heavy lifting.
Electric cars, renewable energy, and smart chargers have delivered on the promise we have been pining for since our imaginations were teased by futuristic childhood cartoons. Technology is finally solving the problems you thought would always be there, taking away pain points that have chafed us like a small rock in your shoe.
You see my friends, the future you have been dreaming of all these years is here. The future is now.
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This is a guest blog from Kyle Field, reporter and editor at CleanTechnica.