You’ve seen #solar panels going up on homes. You’ve read recent articles about solar power. You might have even noticed solar stocks, such as SPWR and SBRT, creeping up slowly – but have you thought about the possibility of solar for cars? Is it a high-tech possibility to use a flat solar glass panel over a car roof? Would this be able to lengthen the driving range of battery-powered vehicles, so long as the sun is shining?
These are important questions to ask. In recent years, Toyota utilized solar sunroofs on some Prius models to power a fan to ventilate the interior (while the vehicle was parked). The question has become: could it be a possibility that this solar technology be adapted to recharge electric vehicle batteries? And it’s a great question, at that.
Solar panels on rooftops for homes can be angled and raised in a very specific way, so they are catching sunlight. A vehicle is constantly moving, so the focus would be on a parked car. Unfortunately, solar panels will need to become more efficient in terms of producing enough power so as to make an impactful difference.
Just to offer an example – let’s say more than 36,000 watts are needed to power a 50 horsepower electric motor. A standard solar panel would only produce roughly 300 watts. The numbers just don’t add up quite yet, but this doesn’t mean the goal is unobtainable. According to The Times Tribune, one would have to park their vehicle for several days in the desert in order to charge up their electric vehicle using one solar panel. Of course, by the time enough power had been built up to charge the electric vehicle, the dashboard would likely be completely melted – literally, there have been stories about dashboards melting in vehicles. This is something that sometimes happens in places such as Florida.
Solar panels for cars could definitely come to light in the near future, but in terms of economic costs of solar panels and #energy output, the concept doesn’t make complete sense at this time. Roofs and trunks and hoods of vehicles might eventually be able to be coated with a solar collection film, which increases the prospective collection area. If batteries and vehicles become lighter, this would be helpful, too.
We have to stay open to the possibilities. Earlier this year, an article was published on Futurism.com which indicated a #solar panel car (fully solar-powered car) would be released by 2019. The car is known as Lightyear One, and it was designed by Lightyear, a Dutch startup. It won a Climate Change Innovator Award and supposedly can drive for long periods of time without charging. Kinks are still being worked out, but it is clear that solar is the way of the future. Did you know the Byron Bay Railroad Company created the first-ever completely solar-powered train in 2017? #Solar vehicles are not lightyears away, after all.
Stay on top of solar news to follow the latest developments – we are on the road to a very green future!