The role of renewable energy in charging electric fleets

Jun 17, 2024 · 11 min read · blog

The adoption of electric fleets is rapidly growing as companies seek to reduce operational costs and minimize their environmental impact. At the same time, the importance of renewable energy sources is increasing, offering a sustainable solution to meet energy demands. Renewable energy, such as solar, wind, and hydro power, is particularly relevant for electric fleets, providing a clean and reliable way to charge vehicles.

In this blog post, we will explore how renewable energy can power electric fleets, highlighting the benefits and practical applications of integrating renewable energy into fleet operations.

Understanding renewable energy for electric fleets

To fully understand the role of renewable energy in powering electric fleets, first, let’s summarize what renewable energy is and its main sources.

Definition: Renewable energy comes from natural sources that are constantly replenished, such as sunlight, wind, and water. Unlike fossil fuels, which are finite and produce harmful emissions, renewable energy is sustainable and environmentally friendly. The main sources of renewable energy include:

  • Solar power: Energy harnessed from the sun using solar panels.
  • Wind power: Energy generated from wind using wind turbines.
  • Hydro power: Energy produced from moving water, typically using dams or water turbines.

Integrating renewable energy into electric fleet operations offers several significant benefits.

  • Environmental impact: One of the most compelling benefits of using renewable energy is the substantial reduction in carbon footprint. By using clean energy to charge electric vehicles, companies can further decrease their overall greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This not only helps combat climate change but also contributes to cleaner air and a healthier environment.
  • Cost savings: While the initial investment in renewable energy infrastructure, such as solar panels or wind turbines, can be high, the long-term cost savings are considerable. Over time, the cost of generating electricity at certain power plants based on renewable energy sources can become profitable in the right use and installation environment, leading to savings in energy expenses for fleet operations.

While electric vehicles offer significant benefits, such as reduced CO2 emissions and improved air quality, these advantages are closely linked to the energy mix of the country or region where they are charged. The overall carbon footprint of EVs depends on how the electricity is produced and transported - so in regions heavily reliant on coal-fired power plants, the environmental benefits of EVs may be diminished due to the high emissions associated with coal power. On the other hand, in areas with a cleaner energy mix, the CO2 emission reductions from EVs are much more substantial.

For companies committed to sustainability, integrating renewable energy into their operations is crucial to significantly reduce their overall carbon footprint. While it's challenging to cover 100% of the electricity demand with renewables—especially during winter months when conditions are less favorable—companies can still meet a substantial portion of their energy needs through renewable sources. During summer, any surplus renewable energy can potentially be fed back into the grid, further supporting the transition to cleaner energy.

However, it's important to maintain an active connection to the grid to balance the intermittent nature of renewable energy. This ensures a more reliable power supply even when renewable generation is low. By strategically integrating renewable energy with electric fleet operations, companies can achieve a more sustainable and cost-effective approach to fleet management, significantly contributing to their overall environmental goals.

Integrating renewable energy with electric fleets

Integrating renewable energy with electric fleets requires careful planning and appropriate infrastructure. Among the various renewable energy sources, solar power is one of the most practical and widely considered options for charging electric vehicles.

Solar power is an increasingly popular choice for powering electric fleets. By installing solar panels on rooftops, above parking lots or in dedicated solar farms, companies can harness the sun's energy to generate electricity. This electricity can then be used to charge EVs during the day. Solar power is particularly advantageous because it aligns with the operational hours of many fleets, providing energy when it’s most needed. Additionally, solar energy can be stored in batteries for use during nighttime or cloudy days, ensuring a consistent power supply.

Infrastructure requirements: To effectively integrate solar power, several infrastructure components are necessary:

  • Solar panels: These capture sunlight and convert it into electricity. Panels can be installed on building rooftops, parking structures, or ground-mounted in open areas.
  • Inverters: These devices convert the direct current (DC) electricity produced by solar panels into alternating current (AC) electricity, which can be used by most electric vehicle chargers.
  • Energy storage systems: Batteries are crucial for storing excess solar energy generated during the day. This stored energy can then be used to charge EVs when solar generation is low, such as during the night or on cloudy days.
  • EV charging stations: To directly charge the electric fleet, companies need to install compatible charging stations. These can range from low-power AC chargers to high-power DC chargers, depending on the fleet’s requirements.

While solar power is a leading option, it’s important to assess the specific needs and conditions of the fleet operation to determine the best renewable energy solution. The necessary infrastructure must be carefully planned and implemented to ensure seamless integration and maximum efficiency.

With the right infrastructure, companies can effectively use solar power to charge their electric fleets, achieving both environmental and economic benefits. In the next section, we will discuss the challenges and solutions associated with integrating renewable energy into electric fleet operations.

Overcoming challenges in renewable energy integration for electric fleets

Integrating renewable energy into electric fleet operations presents several challenges, but there are effective solutions to address these issues.

Initial costs: One of the primary challenges is the high upfront cost associated with renewable energy infrastructure. Solar panels, inverters, energy storage systems, and EV charging stations require significant investment. Chargers can be particularly expensive, especially high-power DC chargers ranging from 50 to 175 kW or even 350 kW. These high-power DC chargers are most commonly used in the heavy-duty sector to support the rapid charging needs of large commercial vehicles. On the other hand, light commercial vehicle (LCV) operating companies may opt for 25, 50, or 100 kW DC chargers, which provide a balance between cost and charging efficiency. Such investment costs can be managed through various strategies:

  • Grants and incentives: Many governments offer grants, tax credits, and incentives to support the adoption of renewable energy. These can significantly offset the initial investment costs.
  • Financing options: Companies can explore financing options such as loans, leases, or power purchase agreements (PPAs) that spread the cost over time, making it more manageable.
  • Long-term savings: It's important to consider the long-term savings on energy costs. Over time, the reduction in electricity expenses can outweigh the initial investment, providing a strong financial return.

Battery storage systems are also a considerable expense. Although the technology is continually advancing and the price per kWh is decreasing over the years, the initial investment for sufficient storage capacity can still be substantial. Effective battery storage is crucial for managing energy supply, especially during periods when the demand does not meet the energy need in time. Vehicles might be on the run during the daytime when the energy generation occurs. Despite these high initial costs, the long-term benefits and savings from reduced energy expenses and improved sustainability make these investments worthwhile for many companies. Another solution worth mentioning is grid integration:

  • Grid integration: Connecting the renewable energy system to the grid allows companies to draw power when renewable sources are insufficient and provide the possibility to feed excess energy back into the grid when there is a surplus.

Regulatory and policy support: Supportive policies and incentives are crucial for the successful integration of renewable energy. These can include:

  • Government incentives: Tax credits, grants, and subsidies can reduce the financial burden of initial investments and encourage more companies to adopt renewable energy solutions.
  • Regulatory frameworks: Clear and supportive regulatory frameworks can facilitate the installation and operation of renewable energy systems, making it easier for companies to integrate these technologies.
  • Public awareness and support: Raising awareness about the benefits of renewable energy and electric fleets can garner public support and drive policy changes that further encourage adoption.

By addressing these challenges with effective solutions, companies can successfully integrate renewable energy into their electric fleet operations, taking advantage of the benefits of sustainability and cost savings.

How Volteum supports renewable energy integration

Volteum provides comprehensive solutions to support the integration of renewable energy into electric fleet operations. Our value proposition includes detailed analysis and strategic planning to ensure efficient and sustainable fleet management.

  1. Fleet analysis and electrification strategy: We begin by analyzing your fleet to determine which vehicles can be replaced by electric models. Our comprehensive electrification strategy outlines the steps needed for a smooth transition, ensuring your fleet becomes more sustainable and cost-effective.
  2. Energy consumption and route planning: Using advanced EV consumption modeling and route planning tools, we accurately estimate the energy consumption of electric vehicles. This allows us to plan optimal routes and provide precise range estimations, ensuring that your electric fleet operates efficiently.
  3. Solar capacity analysis: Volteum can perform a detailed analysis of the solar capacity required to power your fleet. We calculate the necessary solar energy to meet your fleet's daily, monthly, and yearly energy demands, ensuring that your renewable energy resources are sufficient to support your operations.
  4. Telematics-based charging needs: By leveraging telematics data, we can monitor vehicle locations and movements to determine when they need charging throughout the day. This real-time data helps us align charging schedules with your operational needs.
  5. Matching charging demand with solar production: We compare the charging demand of your fleet with the production curve of your solar panels. By analyzing this data, we can calculate energy usage and identify any discrepancies between production and consumption. If necessary, we can size and design appropriate energy storage solutions to balance these profiles, ensuring a steady and reliable energy supply.

With these comprehensive analyses and strategic insights, Volteum helps design sustainable sites that support your fleet operations. Our solutions ensure that your fleet remains efficient and environmentally friendly while maximizing the benefits of renewable energy integration.


Renewable energy, when properly combined with storage capacity, can be profitable and significantly reduce the CO2 footprint. This integration creates sustainable, self-sufficient enterprises that contribute to a better environment, and businesses can ensure their fleet operations are both environmentally friendly and economically efficient.

However, careful planning and maintaining a connection to the grid are crucial. These measures ensure that energy supply and security are always maintained, preventing any compromise to operations. With strategic implementation, renewable energy can transform fleet management, leading to a sustainable and resilient future.

If you are considering integrating renewable energy into your electric fleet, now is the perfect time to explore your options. Contact Volteum for expert guidance and support, and start your journey towards a greener, more sustainable fleet today.

Talk to our experts!

Get in touch to discuss more in detail how Volteum can help your business electrify and optimize your fleet.
Book a demo