Solar Powered Cars
powered cars, although they were invented over forty years ago, are
still not widely used today. The biggest limitation to solar cars is
the photovoltaic panels that are used. Until just recently PV panels
were only about 10% efficient so to power a car they had to cover a
lot of space, and they still didn’t generate enough power for
high speeds desired by motorists. 20 mph was the average speed on early
models, but they could only carry one person.
Solar powered cars work in conjunction with a battery that is charged
by the solar panels. This allows the car to continue powered movement
even during cloudy weather, and possibly at night. Solar car races are
won and lost based on how well the driver conserves power, however conserving
too much power will result in slower speeds. With recent increases in
PV cell efficiency, solar panels are beginning to be used more often
on motor vehicles, although not as the primary source of energy.
Hybrid solar powered cars use solar panels in combination with another
source of energy. That source could be a traditional gasoline or diesel
engine, a fuel cell, wind power or even a regular electric plug to charge
a battery. This allows for quick acceleration, high speeds and the ability
to be driven in any weather or time of day that are demanded by motorists
while still utilizing as much renewable energy as possible. Until photovoltaic
panels are incredibly more efficient these hybrids will help the transition
to renewable energy.