Science fiction has always been ahead of its time. But even so, it has felt like people have been waiting a long time for flying cars or even solar-powered cars. The ability to fly through the air or find a vehicle powered by alternative means has long been on our minds, but it seems like it’s always just out of reach.
While flying cars may still be a long way off, surely the concept of a solar-powered car feels closer than ever? Given the rise in popularity and accessibility of solar panels, it seems like any day now, there will be a new announcement. Or will there?
The Practical Nature of Solar Powered Cars
There are a few problems with the idea of having a solar-powered car. For one thing, solar panels are not known for being small or portable – not the kind required for powering an entire vehicle, at any rate.
The other concern is efficiency. Currently, the solar panels out in the field have a rating between 11 and 15 percent. This is the current capacity for converting solar into energy. All things considered, that’s pretty decent. But is it enough to power a car – and keep it on the road for hours on end? On a sunny day, sure. But if there is no backup battery in the car, there’s going to be a problem when snow or rain hits. Not to mention nighttime.
This brings up the following problem in this list. Any solar-powered car will naturally require a battery to store excess input, as otherwise, the vehicle will simply cease to work the moment its power source (the sun) goes away. All of which adds to the weight and complexity of the car.
Solar Power Limitations
The simple truth is that the numbers revolving around solar panels and their output are based on ideal conditions. This is why they are so carefully placed upon houses and buildings – to get the ideal input.
Driving around is naturally going to negate those ideal numbers – by a wide margin. Even the geniuses behind the Tesla battery can only do so much when it comes to the human need to travel.
Technically speaking, a car today could be powered by solar panels. In that, an electric car could be fully recharged thanks to an outside (solar-powered) source. Not quite the same thing as what most people picture, but it’s better than nothing.
However, that is not the real debate when it comes to solar-powered cars. An actual solar-powered car may happen someday, but it will require another leap forward when it comes to solar tech. That being said, don’t write off the idea just yet – as plenty of companies are still trying to make it work.