A Moment of Science

Solar Powered Cars

What are the pros and cons of a solar powered ride?

a yellow sportscar with solar panels on hood

Photo: borman 818 (flickr)

In order for a car to run effectively on energy from the sun, it needs to be light and efficient in design.

Not only is automobile exhaust a major contributor to greenhouse gases, but oil is a nonrenewable source of energy.

As the world’s oil supplies dwindle, research into alternative energy sources to power automobiles is becoming a necessity.

Solar Power Alternative

One such alternative energy source is solar power. What’s not to love about a renewable energy source that doesn’t pollute the planet? Solar powered cars have the added benefit of eliminating fuel costs. Why aren’t car manufacturers marketing solar cars already? Well, it’s not because the technology to produce solar powered cars doesn’t exist, but in part because solar power presents certain obstacles when it comes to powering cars.

Obstacles

For starters, current trends in car design are ill-suited to solar power. In order for a car to run effectively on energy from the sun, it needs to be light and efficient in design. Conventional cars such as SUVs are anything but, and as such, would be difficult to power adequately with solar cells.

Second, the sun isn’t available 24 hours a day. If a solar powered car is to operate when the sun isn’t visible, it has to store some of its energy in a battery. A battery, however, adds significant weight to a car, reducing its speed and acceleration. To overcome this obstacle, engineers are working on designing lighter, more efficient batteries.

Finally, if a car needs to drive a very long distance, it may need to store some of the energy it collects while driving, which will also reduce speed and acceleration. The good news is that in most cases, cars can store adequate energy while parked, and thus when on the road direct the bulk of their energy toward powering the vehicle.

  • anielle

    Sunlight is an excellent energy source and the future of using solar power is very exciting. The Sun's energy can be used to heat and cool buildings, generate electricity, operate communication and navigation systems and even power solar cars, like the ones in the General Motors Solar Car Sunrayce featured in the Newton's Apple segment!masini de inchiriat

  • http://www.solarpower4home.net/ solar power for home

    very informative article. Thanks a lot for sharing.

  • CletusShirley

    Due to this financial crisis the world is facing, in order for a company to strive, all expenses must be optimized. Buying office supplies is inevitable but it can be done in a smart manner. Everything can be bought in bulk, from staples and paper to and office furniture. Chose a supplier that also offers free shipment and other incentives.

  • adawakeman42

    I honestly think that if they would develop these type of cars, they would work even better than the electric ones. I have a friend working in a used Ford cars Manchester shop, and he is working to transform his old car into a solar-powered one. He's trying to find a way of making the car charge during the day enough to be used also during the night.

  • msaiwn

    I'm sure that these inconvenients will be soon overcome. If the idea has already been discovered, how hard can it be to make some adjustments?


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  • RianJepson

    Those solar panels look like that cross from the TV Show “Weeds”. This car wants to look powerful and strong, but with that cross look alike on front, it just doesn't seem right. I'm sure it would be healthier for the environment and I shouldn't care about the appearance, but when a guy buys himself a car, he wants is to be pretty, he doesn't want to panic every time he hides it under a car cover that the car won't start afterwards.

  • rising_moon

    Wow this is grate! I am very fond of the idea of driving an electric or solar car. I think it's the least we can do for the environment. But I was wondering if I could find a solar nissan Philadelphia model. I really don't know where to search for it.

  • lmatheny

    Whilte running a wind turbine on the grill in the front (like a paper towel roll) can also generate power while the car is moving making it's own wind. Duhhh. People are doing this in their garages.

  • http://www.gapsecuritydirect.co.uk nick

    i really want ppl 2 start buying solar power cars. if cars ran by fuel aren’t made illegal in the next 1 1/2 years i don’t know wut the point in trying is! i don’t usuallt get worked up about these things but i happen to like penguins! obvioiusly the drivers of fuel powered cars dont!!!

  • http://www.gapsecuritydirect.co.uk/motorbike.asp Gap services

    I think after some time all fuel run substance will be finished at that time these solar car and nitrogen based vehicle is made our new future.

  • http://www.autoanything.com Reginald

    How about a solar-electric hybrid?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HMUMEMKCJWTDFNFYR47GMJJNQE Jenna Miles

    Now this solar-powered car info is what I’ve been looking for. Could be giving you credits on the way the way you deliver this great insight. This kind of an fascinating story.Auto Transport Quotes

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  • alice debraxx

    Finally, if a car needs to drive a very long distance, it may need to
    store some of the energy it collects while driving, which will also
    reduce speed and acceleration. The good news is that in most cases, cars
    can store adequate energy while parked, and thus when on the road
    direct the bulk of their energy toward powering the vehicle. marirea penisului 

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