Environmentalists and conservationists, and anyone concerned with pollution and climate change are among the world’s population that are looking for better ways to power – well, everything.
Fossil fuels are difficult to extract, require refining, storage, and transportation. Waste and pollution are unavoidable by-products of producing oil and gasoline. Nuclear power is cleaner, but also requires mining and refining nuclear fuel, and produces radioactive waste that must be disposed of in a secure environment indefinitely.
Is there a better solution for producing clean, dependable power? Electric motors are one answer. More electric vehicles and hybrid gasoline/electric than ever have taken to the road, offered by an ever-increasing number of manufacturers.
Most of these vehicles power their electric motors through battery power. This is of course a great step in the right direction, but there are disadvantages to this approach, as well:
- Hybrids still include a gasoline engine and rely on its use for an extended mileage range, although emissions are greatly reduced through the use of the electric motor.
- Batteries must be recharged. This includes connecting to a home or workplace charging facility, or a publicly-available charging station (which are steadily increasing in number and location).
- Recharging or battery vehicles requires electric energy which in itself must be produced by power plants that may be reliant on fossil fuels, creating additional pollutants.
- Eventually, batteries must be replaced, with depleted battery packs and their chemical properties being disposed of – possibly generating hazardous waste and contributing to landfill space.
Solar Is a Better Way
Solar power for homes and business has gained considerably in popularity in recent years, even for commercial properties and modern manufacturing plants. Massive solar panel “farms” are producing electric energy for larger populations, and cost-effective solar panels are appearing on more businesses and homes for many reasons:
- Reduction in carbon footprint – environmental concerns
- Incentives given by some government jurisdictions for investment in alternative agencies
- Reduced cost in power consumption – less reliance on public power sources
Today solar power is proliferating far beyond powering buildings and homes. Improvements in power generation and efficiency have propelled investment in solar powered electric motors for powering vehicles used for transportation:
- Solar powered motors for automobiles and trucks
- Solar powered electric boat motors
Advantages of Solar Powered Electric Motors
Solar powered electric motors have many advantages over conventional gasoline-powered engines:
- Emission-free operation – no fuel consumed, and no batteries to recharge
- Fast starts for electric vehicles – torque is immediate, as opposed to gasoline engines that increase along with engine RPMs
- Mileage is no longer an issue, since solar panels continuously provide power
How Do Solar-Powered Motors Work?
Just like a solar panel on your home or business, cars and boats powered by solar energy incorporate solar panels, manufactured with photovoltaic cells that transform energy from the sun directly into energy.
This energy drives the vehicle’s electronic motor and provides power to batteries, so that the vehicle is still usable when sun power is not adequate.
Solar powered electric boat motors could very well be the ultimate application for solar power. Some boats have no need to power accessories such as air conditioning, and they are typically used in warm or sunny climates – an ideal environment for leveraging the sun’s free power resources.
Advantages of Solar Powered Electric Motors
Most consumers are intrigued by all-electric vehicles by the notion of passing by every gas station with their electronic motor happily humming along. But there are pros and cons from these emission-free, non-gas-guzzling vehicles:
- Far fewer mechanical parts – no timing belts or head gaskets to fail or maintain
- No engine oil changes or coolant requirements
- Electronic motors typically have longer life than gasoline engines
- Battery-equipped vehicles will eventually need to have batteries replaced. While some manufacturer warranties cover batteries, not all will. If batteries fail after the warranty expires, replacement can be costly.
- Resale value may suffer from potential buyers’ fear of the very possibility they will need to replace expensive batteries.
- Vehicle damage in accidents may impact somewhat fragile batteries, resulting in more expensive repair bills.
Solar power as implemented in vehicles today does not amount technically to solar powered electric vehicles, even for totally electric cars.
The Future of Solar Powered Electric Vehicles
True solar automobiles today are primarily built for competitive racing and engineering challenges. Solar-enhanced vehicles are available to the public as well, but the solar panels typically provide only limited electricity to run vehicle accessories such as air conditioning, and to assist with recharging batteries.
Prototypes from multiple manufactures have gained considerable interest of consumers and investors, but a model available to the consumer market has yet to become reality.