Solar-powered vehicles: Why not?

Do you think solar-powered vehicles are an impossibility? Do you think solar energy cannot power your bike/car? Wait till you see this:

Solar powered plane –

Or this, Solar powered ship (boat) –

Or this, Solar powered Race Car –

What’s special about all the three above vehicles is, they run exclusively on solar power. There is no hybrid/gasoline back-up system in them. The solar plane has completed a short inter-continental trip, the solar ship (boat) is on its mission to circle the globe and the solar race cars can reach speeds of up to 90 miles/hour.

When such bigger vehicles can be run using solar power, why not smaller vehicles? In fact, there are solar scooters, solar bicycles and other solar vehicles.

It’s not that a vehicle needs to be fitted with large solar panels in order to run using solar power. Any electric vehicle/hybrid model (electric + petrol/diesel) can also run using the electrical energy generated by solar panels at home/charging stations. Hybrid bikes and Hybrid cars are available everywhere. I do agree they cost more, but that’s because of the lesser demand.

Electric cars *these days* have high-capacity batteries that can run for 100 miles without recharging. One can easily use the electricity generated by solar panels to recharge the car batteries.

I do agree that the availability/variety of electric cars/hybrid models are limited and they can be very expensive. Even the hybrid bikes are quite expensive when compared to the normal ones. We all know that solar panels/batteries are very expensive too.

But these are expensive because they are not yet been manufactured/sold on a large-scale. Their prices will come down with increase in interest/mass-adoption by people. If we don’t  show interest and push for them, we can only keep blaming the Govt every time petrol prices are raised. Everyone knows that we have limited oil reserves and petrol prices will keep increasing with time.

My question to the readers is – If you are in a position to buy a luxury car, why not buy a hybrid car, fix solar panels (at home) and recharge the car using electricity generated by these solar panels? The technology exists today and is available. The issue is only with the high initial prices. But, when you can afford a luxury car, why not opt for a Toyota/Honda hybrid instead? You are going to save a considerable amount of money (otherwise spent for petrol) on the long-run.

Electric Cars will be introduced by Mahindra Reva shortly, in India.

Maybe in the future, when solar PV technologies become relatively inexpensive or feed-in tariff is announced by the Govt, you can just use solar panels to charge EV’s. Even otherwise, cheaper electric power can be used to run Electric Vehicles.

Why not consider buying an Electric vehicle instead of the normal petrol/diesel vehicles? They are greener, reduce our carbon output, reduce our dependence on petrol/gasoline and with increasing fuel costs, EV’s can save a lot money on the long run.

Destination Infinity

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12 Replies to “Solar-powered vehicles: Why not?”

  1. I believe that solar energy is the future. In our home we already have solar panels for heating water and even use a solar cooker! I hope to buy a solar powered car one day.

    1. Good to know that you are already using solar energy in some form. More people should start utilizing it for their daily work… Solar powered car is a distant dream, but an electric car that can be powered by electricity from solar panels is possible today.

      Destination Infinity

  2. I think most people would like to go solar if the prices were lower. In Europe people are really starting to invest in solar houses but there will be some time before they start buying solar vehicles. I don’t know about the speed that these cars reach, because sometimes people buy luxury cars for perks like that.

    1. Performance limitations will be there with solar, but people can buy hybrid cars that can run both on gasoline/petrol and electricity (supplied by solar energy). I feel that the manufacturers should give more elctric car model options in the luxury segment. If customers demand, they have to.

      Destination Infinity

    1. Nuclear power gives more avenues for state controlled electricity but I am not sure how long this can continue. People today are in a position to take up electricity generation in their own hands. If many people do it, the Government will not have any consumers to supply to! I know its day dreaming, but I do seriously feel that more people should use solar/wind/hydro to generate a part of their energy requirements.

      Destination Infinity

    1. It’s possible, but currently its quite expensive and inefficient. I just hope that the technology becomes affordable and efficient soon enough. I am a big fan of decentralized energy generation.

      Destination Infinity

  3. Solar vehicles are really exciting. And they will definitely become main-stream in future (at least in a country like ours, where sun-shine is in abundance).
    For now there are these factors that stop them from becoming popular: High Cost and Lack of facility (like charging points).
    Unlike petrol/diesel run vehicle, hybrid vehicle needs some time to charge their batteries. So they have to be parked at the charging point. So if we have charging points in our parking lot, then it becomes a little more viable option.

    1. It is a challenge, but we can charge the batteries during weekends and in the evenings from solar panels kept at home. For cars, there can be a solar panel on the roof which charges the batteries while parking in an open parking lot, etc. But till we can install smart meters and modernize the electrical grid, large scale adoption of solar power will be very difficult.

      Destination Infinity

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