A look at how the solar industry is changing the way we fuel-up.
It is estimated that over a billion passenger cars travel the streets and roads of the world today. And even as more people flock to urban centers and mass transit use increases, population growth causes a 3% to 4% rise in new car production every year. The vast majority of cars run on fossil fuel, consuming Earth's limited resources and spewing 333 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually.
Up until recently, electric cars have been our best hope of alleviating the car pollution problem, but electric cars represent only a tiny fraction (3.2 million out of over 1 billion) of cars in use today. As electric cars become more efficient and as their prices move closer to those of traditional cars, auto manufacturers predict a significant rise in electric car sales in the next few years.
Green Solar Technologies COO, Edward Harner shares his thoughts on electric cars. "Electric cars, while quiet, clean, and relatively eco-friendly, still have a few issues," says Harner, "We can look at them as more of a stepping stone to a green future, but they're not the solution."
Electric cars are charged by conventional power grids, which are still sourced predominantly by non-renewable energy. More importantly, electric cars must be re-charged regularly, and until substantial efforts are made on electric vehicle (EV) infrastructures, electric cars will be plagued by a severe shortage of charging points. Further, even with access to charging points it takes from 30 minutes to 12 hours to fully charge an electric car. So where can we find a solution to these challenges?
Enter the solar-powered car.
Solar powered cars are no longer a dream of the distant future. Sono Motors of Germany is taking pre-orders for its Sion solar-powered car, which are due to hit Europe's roads later this year. And the Dutch Company Lightyear says that its fully solar powered vehicle, Lightyear One, is scheduled for delivery in 2020. Manufacturers like these are the vanguard of what promises to be a broader effort by electric vehicle manufacturers to introduce solar technology into their burgeoning line-ups.
"We at GST are always exciting to hear about any advancements in solar technology," says Harner, "We really believe in the green energy movement, and anything that can help progress the movement is music to our ears."
Solar-powered cars can go a long way in alleviating the fear of being stranded in an uncharged vehicle. And battery storage capacities continue to rise, solar-powered vehicles will have the ability to run longer on stored energy in cloudy conditions or at night. Imagine the eventuality of cars that can run virtually non-stop without having to re-charge.
Another advantage of solar-powered vehicles, especially in developing nations, is that they can act as portable power plants. The Sion and Lightyear One are already designed for just that purpose and come equipped with standard domestic plugs. Innovations like this are sure to excite the imagination as they blur the lines between personal transportation and utility.
Harner states, "Though we're probably a fews years out from the widespread use of solar-powered cars, this should motivate us all to continue down the path of a future where we use 100% clean energy worldwide."