The closest thing to the planet earth is the sun. It throws our limitless sunlight, and this energy from the sun can be used to power the planet to a great extent. We will never run out of this energy, and it won’t even pollute our environment. It is undoubtedly the perfect source of solar energy for cars.
But, this is not it. We still cannot drive a solar car because it’s not entirely convenient or an efficient travel option. Many companies have manufactured solar cars, but solar cars are limited by energy efficiency, storage, cost, and the slow development of charging batteries. And hence, we cannot guarantee that driving a solar car is entirely safe or a convenient option to go for.
In this article, you will come across many reasons why we don’t drive solar cars yet. Also, we’ll see if it is even possible to manufacture a fully solar-powered car and the benefits of driving a solar car.
Why Should We Drive Solar Cars?
Solar cars are going to emerge as the future of the world. Here are a few reasons why we should drive solar cars:
• Solar cars emit no hazardous gases: Solar-powered cars are made from electric motors, and that’s how they usually change solar energy to electric energy for cars.
Hence, they don’t emit any gases into the environment. Every individual that genuinely loves the environment will also love the idea of solar cars running on the road.
• Saving natural resources: Once solar energy is produced, it doesn’t require any other natural resource to operate further. Unlike gas-powered vehicles, solar cars don’t use oil or petroleum. And hence, once you start driving solar cars, you will ultimately save all kinds of natural resources.
• They are the technology of the future: With the advancement of technology in the field of digital marketing and online businesses, the technology of cars is also advancing. We can clearly see the day when solar cars will become the future, and one can drive easily using a solar-powered car.
Why Don’t We Have Solar Cars Yet?
The idea that the world will solely use solar cars to drive from one place to another seems too good to be true, especially at this crucial time of climate crisis. And this seems to be impossible because:
• Energy Efficiency: Solar cars highly depend on solar panels for energy. They use photovoltaic cells to transform the sun’s rays into electric energy. And when the sunlight hits the PV cells, it helps the electrons to flow by creating electricity. In manufacturing these PV cells, crystalline silicon is used, which has an efficiency of 15 to 20 percent only.
There are a few solar cars that use gallium arsenide. Gallium has an efficiency rate of less than thirty percent. Solar cars work better, but they are not perfect at all.
• Storage Efficiency: With the increase in the demand for sustainable energy resources such as wind energy, solar energy, and hydroelectric energy, there is a need to store this energy with the ultimate aim of balancing demand and supply of energy.
And when it comes to solar energy, then batteries are the way to go for solar cars. But when it comes to storing batteries, solar cars, if loaded with batteries, can slow down their speed and cause inconvenience in driving.
Storage is the biggest issue when it comes to storing energy in solar cars. Even if you drive at night, you cannot go any further than 40 kilometers.
• High Cost: This is another common reason we cannot use solar cars any sooner. Sunlight is free, but the PV cells aren’t. Solar cars are expensive because of the cost of the whole PV system, charging mechanism, and related infrastructure.
The process of charging solar panels isn’t easy either. You need to have a home charging unit and a PV inverter unit that helps convert solar energy into electric energy. And these aren’t cheap. They cost somewhere around $200 to even $1000.
Solar panels cost about $2000 up to $4000. Overall, you have to spend around $10,000 to get a single solar car ready to drive on the road. Also, manufacturing solar power isn’t cheap either. Therefore, there are only a few companies across the globe that have started producing them.
Manufacturing solar cars require a lot of energy and money, which isn’t possible to do for many automotive companies.
• Weather Dependency: It is quite evident that solar cars need solar energy or sunlight to function. But what if we don’t have sunlight? What about the days when there is no sun, and all you can see are clouds?
On such cloudy days, the clouds will eventually reduce the amount of electric energy produced by your car system.
It depends on the number of times a cloud passes over your system. If it is a partly cloudy day, then the energy production by the solar panels will decrease by up to 20%. Overall, your car’s electricity production capacity can be reduced by up to 30 percent. If you live in Arizona or California, then this can be a concern for you.
During the rainy days, the rain clouds will highly impact energy production. Scientists are still working on this and manufacturing a solar panel that can produce energy even on rainy days.
• Slow development of solar-powered charging stations: The very first solar car manufactured in the world was by General Motors. It was presented in Chicago at a convention. It was named the Sunmobile.
And till today, companies like Hyundai and other big automotive industries are working on manufacturing a fully solar-powered car or at least a hybrid version of the same. Companies are striving to make a sustainable future for the automobile industry and the environment.
Solar panels can only do so much. They are designed to charge the car battery and are not solely responsible for running a car. There are other critical equipment and integrations required to run a full-fledged solar car on the road.
There was one more dutch car introduced, which claimed to run about 724 kilometers on a single charge. And it costs around 150,000 Euros. The company has already started the production process.
• Economic Situations: We had just hit the pandemic in 2020 and still haven’t recovered from the economic losses that citizens and the nation have faced as a whole.
Amidst the pandemic, at least for the next three to five years, no human will make such a heavy investment. The production as well the sale of solar cars seems to be impossible in such challenging situations.
And as the economy of every country has collapsed to a great extent, it can be said that solar car production is not going to take place any sooner.
The GDP and per capita income of most developing and developed countries were highly impacted due to the covid-19 attack. And currently, the majority of the nations are focused on building the economy stronger again. Although it is proven, a solar power-driven ecosystem can generate more employment than the old ecosystem.
Is Manufacturing a Fully Solar-Powered Car Possible?
It practically seems impossible to build a fully solar-powered car in the coming years. But, semi-solar vehicles seem to be an excellent start to an eco-friendly journey. And this can also decrease the use of fossil fuels drastically over time.
The reason why manufacturing a fully solar-powered car seems impossible is because of the large surface area of solar panels required to power a solar car. Also, considering the low efficiency of solar panels, this seems highly impractical.
Solar panels alone cannot charge the solar car fully. However, they can help with charging the other systems of the car, such as AC and other car control systems through the car battery.
This may seem to you like just a small contribution, but this will reduce the usage of fossil fuels to a higher level. And as many companies are striving to manufacture highly efficient solar panels, this can help to power the cars and even less usage of fossil fuels. And undoubtedly, solar power is an excellent way of saving non-renewable resources.
All in all, solar cars are a great way of reducing pollution and building a sustainable planet. But, the other factors must be considered as well before moving to solar cars. Most important of all is the efficiency of solar panels and how that can be increased with the help of technological advancements.
Overall, we believe that solar cars will be in use pretty soon. But till then, we have to be patient and try to take small steps towards attaining sustainability. In the span of 5 years (or even less than that), solar cars will become a human way of living.
We are happy to see that more people are willing to adapt to this lifestyle. The Lively Watt team urges you to encourage others to choose this path too. Let’s join hands and build a sustainable planet together.