As the hybrid car industry and use of solar power across the world continue to improve, the former has found a greater use for the latter. That is, hybrid vehicles are exploring the utilization of solar power.
In this article, we will take an in-depth look at how car makers have begun integrating the use of solar power to charge and subsequently power hybrid vehicles.
The Science of Solar Power
Although solar power is not new to the world, it is steadily being rolled out in different phases in many different industries. So, how exactly does solar power work? Simply put, solar power is energy converted into thermal or electrical energy. This is done by harnessing the sun’s rays through several methods, both active and passive.
One of the many reasons solar power has begun to rise in popularity across several industries is due to it being the cleanest and most abundant renewable energy source available to us. The U.S. has continued to create and grow their solar harnessing efforts to offer the richest solar resources in the world.
Active solar systems use mechanical or electrical devices to convert the sun’s heat or light into another form of energy. This is seen in solar heating and cooling systems as well as solar electric, or photovoltaics.
How Hybrid Vehicles Are Utilizing Solar Power
The active solar system of photovoltaics or (PV) is one in which cells are contained in solar panels and converted to solar energy to power part or all of a solar vehicle’s propulsion. Although the first solar vehicle was built in the Netherlands in 2013, Ford and Toyota have since developed their own solar vehicles.
The Ford C-Max Solar Energi concept has been in development since 2014. It is an impressive new solar vehicle that will be offered by the American car maker. With a solar panel roof and its new turbocharged engine, the vehicle is said to be 20% more fuel efficient.
Ford will keep the C-Max a hybrid, rather than going fully electric meaning the vehicle will still utilize a gas engine to be used as a normal powertrain or a generator. The most impressive in this new vehicle concept will be the self-sustaining solar panels mounted to the vehicle roof, as they will automatically track the sun.
Benefits of Solar Vehicles
With a vast and profitable market of hybrid and electric vehicles existing in the U.S., solar vehicles are likely to enjoy the same popularity. Due to the many benefits and advantages, ecologically minded individuals are already tracking the inevitable roll-out of solar vehicle. What are the most looked forward to advantages of solar vehicles?
- Clean and Renewable Energy Source. As mentioned above, solar power is the cleanest and most renewable energy source that exists. Although producing the vehicles initially consume energy and resources, the end product produces no additional energy input.
- No Energy Costs. Opposite its standard combustion vehicles, a solar vehicle does not require any fossil fuels to power propulsion. Although a hybrid solar vehicle will costs its owner a few dollars to plug-in, a majority of the power will be solar; a free and natural resource.
- Eco-Friendly. A solar vehicle is highly eco-friendly for several reasons. Most importantly, they assist in the preservation of natural resources such as fossil fuels. Additionally, they do not produce greenhouse gases or tailpipe emissions.
- Rebates and Tax Incentives. Much like with hybrid vehicles, solar vehicle owners will enjoy government rebates and tax incentives. The Department of Energy already offers 20-30% rebates and tax credits for individuals using solar systems.
Are you experienced with solar systems and excited at the possibility of a solar vehicle coming to the market soon? Be sure to follow The Hybrid Geek for articles on all things hybrid and electric or help with your own hybrid vehicle.