Red Dwarf’s Robert Llewellyn plugs his electric car into a new type of solar

British motorists with fully-electric cars can drive 1,000 miles for just over five pounds by using solar energy, according to figures released from British Gas.

Robert Llewellyn

With high petrol prices, households with fully electric cars such as the 100% electric Nissan LEAF can install solar panels and use the energy produced to offset the costs of running their car.

Actor Robert Llewellyn, best known for playing Kryten in cult British comedy Red Dwarf, is one of the first motorists to run his car with the help of solar panels.

Since having his panels installed by British Gas three months ago, Robert has clocked up 2,680 miles in his Nissan LEAF. Thanks to his solar panels, he has generated enough energy to provide 85% of the charge required to cover this distance[1]. As a result, his journeys have cost him a fraction of the amount the same mileage would set him back if he had used a petrol powered car.

Robert Llewellyn

"I’m a massive fan of electric cars, and have been for years. With solar-generated electricity, I don’t have to worry about the price at the petrol pump. Using solar energy is a fantastically efficient way of getting around and I’ve been amazed at how much energy has been generated even in our typically English, cloudy weather."

British Gas is on track to be the largest supplier of car charging points in Britain’s homes

British Gas is also the preferred supplier of home charging units for the Nissan LEAF electric vehicle, the new Zero Emissions range of Renault EVs, as well as Hitachi Capital’s EV lease offering. The preferred partnership deals mean British Gas is on track to be the largest supplier of car charging points in Britain’s homes, supporting 70% of the domestic market by 2012[3]

Nissan Leaf charging


Cost comparisons per 1,000 miles[2]

Vehicle type - Cost

Petrol car - £150

Electric car - £37.10

Solar powered electric car - £5.38

As well as providing the home with free renewable electricity, solar panels also provide an annual income thanks to the Government’s Feed-in Tariff (FiT).

The scheme rewards solar owners for all the renewable electricity their panels generate, earning a yearly income. The payments are tax-free, index-linked and guaranteed for 25 years[3].

Dean Keeling, Managing Director of British Gas Smart Homes

"Through solar-generated energy, our customers can significantly cut their fuel costs and help reduce Britain’s carbon footprint. Solar-charged vehicles have real potential on our roads, and from the moment the panels are installed customers can begin to reap benefits."

Solar-powered EV sums

  •  644 kWh’s of electricity was used to charge Robert’s Nissan LEAF. This was 26.8 charge cycles and has enabled him to drive around 2,680 miles.

  • The same journey in a petrol vehicle (doing 40 miles per gallon) this would have cost around £402.

  • Robert’s solar panels generated 550 kWh’s - enough to charge 22.9 (85%) of the charge cycles.

  • Therefore, Robert has enough self generated electricity to travel up to 2,290 of his 2,680 miles.

  • Without solar power, travelling 100 miles requires 24 kWh’s of energy and costs Robert £3.71 of electricity (or 3.7p per mile).

  • Therefore, powering his EV for the remaining 390 miles (2,680 – 2,290) would cost Robert £14.43 (3.7p per mile x 390 miles) which, when spread out across the total mileage, equates to just £5.38 to go 1,000 miles.

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[1] According to British Gas data taken from Mr Llewellyn’s solar PV array on 17/07/11.

[2] Petrol cost calculated based on based on the price of petrol at £5.94 per gallon and a vehicle doing approx 50 miles per gallon. Electric vehicle charging cost based on British Gas’ standard tariff rate. Solar powered electric vehicle cost calculated from British Gas data taken from Mr Llewellyn’s solar PV array on 17/07/11.

[3] According to research by Market Gravity, 2011 - calculated based on projections of car manufacturers’ EV market