The primary challenge faced by the solar car is lack of sufficient energy to keep the car moving at speeds that are adequate to standard commuting. The solar arrays, or panels on top of the car that absorb sunlight, need to gather enough power to propel the vehicle into motion. This being the case, the car
itself does not have enough surface area to maintain sufficient enough energy to keep the car at steady speeds for long periods of time, let alone at high speeds. Solar technology is great for buildings and satellites because they have consistent exposure to the sun and can support batteries large enough to store extra power. These batteries are too big and heavy for the size of standard vehicles, thus most solar cars don’t have large enough solar arrays. Due to the smaller size of solar arrays, the cars need to practically always be in sunlight, which means that they power in tunnels or if parked in a garage.
Solar powered cars would be essentially useless on a cloudy day.
Solar power technology that is used for cars is often extremely expensive due to the smallness of parts.
There is an upside too, however. Over the thirty or so y ears that solar technology has been explored, important information has been learned. Much of what has been learned has guided work elsewhere, outside the car market. The development of smaller, more efficient arrays has influenced the
development of technology for attaching solar panels to fuel operated vehicles as a way to increase efficiency. Giving up on the idea for one day having highly effective solar powered cars is not necessary; solar power just needs a bit more time to mature as a technology. There may well come a day in our future when solar powered cars are the primary mode of transportation.
Jenni Sunde is a freelance fashion writer and pop culture junkie. Jenni specializes in all things lifestyle-related. From home and design to health and beauty. With her love of art and all things beautiful, she delights in sharing her sense of style from her life to your computer monitor. Her title pegs her as an editor at a website that specializes in providing people with a car insurance quote, but her passion leads her into writing with a little more substance and a lot more heart.
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