Solar Powered Vehicles
Solar Energy Facts
Renewable Energy Resources
Hybrid technology receives most attention in the transportation industry, however researchers and industry enthusiasts continue to promote solar powered vehicle technology.
The technology's appeal is readily apparent. Imagine a world filled with zero emission cars, trucks, SUVs and minivans running completely on solar power. That marketing approach speaks for the range of solar transportation products in testing and on the market today, from high performance race cars to back yard lawn mowers.
Traditionally, the term solar powered vehicle loosely applies to any transportation platform fitted with a solar powered electric battery.
A more relaxed definition would include electric vehicles charged by stand alone solar panels. So, for example, homeowners using their solar panels to recharge their electric lawn mowers can rightfully consider their lawn mowers solar powered.
Today's high performance solar vehicles fit the more restrictive definition, and the technology driving solar powered racing cars continues to improve, with efficiency gains in solar cells and batteries leading the way.
The best of the current lot of racing cars can reach speeds in excess of 100 mph.
Solar racing cars compete in a variety of cross-country and closed-track venues. The North American Solar Challenge and the World Solar Challenge, two of the more established cross-country races, invite university students and professionals to design and build cars using the latest solar and battery technology.
Neighborhood Electric Vehicles, or NEVs for short, fit in a lower performance category than solar race cars. Typically NEVs are considered restricted, cart like, on-road vehicles, with local speed limits used as the restricting tool. Generally any state licensed NEV may travel on roads posted with speed limits of 35 mph or less.
Currently the market offers only a limited line of true solar powered NEVs having the ability to automatically recharge the battery while the vehicle is parked. Solar-powered battery-charging stations have been proposed in a few areas. However, most NEVs get recharged by electricity produced from fossil fuel sources.
© 2007-2012 Patricia A. Michaels