You would not be wrong to assume that solar energy harvesting is still at an early stage of development. We have so much more to learn and experiment within this field. The Sun: The only natural source has tremendous potential, being a limitless source of energy.
The Sun hits us with enough energy at any moment which is almost 10,000 times the energy requirement of the Earth! To top that off, it would not run out for billions of years. It does not pollute our environment and can be accessed from anywhere. Isn’t it a perfect solution to powering our cars?
Despite trying very hard and pouring billions of dollars, we still do not have much in our hands regarding a solar-powered car. Solar-powered means a motor car covered with solar PV or silicon cells or those who do not require charging. The reason is simple; It is all about energy density: How much energy falls on a surface relative to how much is consumed.
There is a limit to how much energy we can capture for a car-sized solar panel. Especially when solar panels efficiency range between 18% to 21%, meaning 21% of the sunlight they absorb is converted into electricity.
The surface area of a car that faces the sun is roughly around 4 square meters whereas only 1 kW of solar energy falls on 1 square meter of earth’s surface. So basically that 4 square meters cars surface area can capture 4kW of sunshine, but average solar panels can max 22% efficiency. Let us be optimistic and say we get that much energy which a 1 kilowatt of solar panel can produce.
Now a very small car has an 85hp engine which is about 64 kilowatts. Ideally, charging 8 hours a day gives you nearly 4kwh energy but your required 64kwh of energy to completely charge the battery, so again optimistically, you would have to leave your solar-powered car out in the sunshine for 8 hours a day for 16 days, which is an insane amount of time! Further, the weight and aerodynamics of the car make this task more difficult.
Oooff.. So much fuss! Believe us, we have a better alternative .
We are not saying that engineers and scientists should not work on it, that would indeed be a green machine. Considering the efficiency of the panels, in order to power our cars, we would require panels that are much more efficient, but we are simply not there yet.
Isn’t it better to put solar panels on the roof of your house, attach it with a pair of batteries and charge your car as well as power your home in the event of any grid failure? We agree because not only your roof is bigger than your car but also solar PV technology for your home is much cheaper than a car itself.
It is very well said that a grid powered by renewable energy, every EV will be a solar (or wind) car!
Whether you already have an EV or willing to purchase one, adding solar panels to your home is the second-best decision you have made. Contact Staten Solar for all your Solar PV-related needs.