Solar Cars – Pros And Cons

February 21, 2015 14:30 IST by in Greens.

With the fuel options getting limited, there will be time when the world will have to look for other fuel options. That is the reason why we are seeing different automakers working on alternative fuel. Among several technologies that different automakers are working on, solar is one of them. Several innovators are working on solar-powered vehicles. The sun is an eternal and the most sustainable source of energy that can be used to produce electricity to run vehicles. The solar powered cars are not a common sight in India, as these are still under the experimental phase, but these could become a potential alternative for eco-conscious buyers.

Solar car
Solar car

These green vehicles use photovoltaic cells or solar panel, usually have Nickel-metal hydride/ Nickel-Cadmium/ Lithium ion/ Lithium polymer batteries, mounted on top of the car for generating energy from the sun. The sunlight’s energy frees electrons in the semi-conductor photovoltaic panels and creates an electrons flow that produces electricity and powers the battery. The solar battery can store the excessive electricity, produced all through a sunny day, and use it during night or a cloudy day.

There are several disadvantages and advantages of solar cars.

Pros

Eco-friendly and Quiet:   Solar-powered vehicles have zero emission level, as they don’t utilize non-renewable resources and burn fuel. The electric motors generate electricity that doesn't emit any greenhouse gases or any other pollutants. These cars are quieter than the vehicles powered by conventional fuels, which don't cause noise pollution as well.

Energy Availability: Solar cars derive their power from the sun, indirectly, that always shines and provides endless energy. The efficient solar panels can produce and store more horsepower for the vehicle.

No Fuel Costs: Unlike the conventionally fueled vehicles, solar vehicles have no fuel costs and a low cost of maintenance.

Driving Comfort: Having aluminum and lightweight components, the solar-powered cars run faster and more smoothly than petrol and diesel engine vehicles.

Cons

Design Challenge: The solar vehicles require large surface area on roof for mounted solar panels, have low wind resistance and space only for two passengers.

Poor Practicality: These green cars don’t have any driver safety features and other equipment such as wiper blades, headlights and rear view mirrors. Aspects like suspension, chassis strength, steering, brakes, secured solar panels and batteries arrangement also need to be taken seriously.

Expensive Batteries: The efficient solar panels and batteries and their replacement are way too expensive that need to be changed so often. This is what makes the solar vehicles a costly affair.

Energy Storage Capacity: The photovoltaic cells or solar panels can convert 15-30% of sunlight into electricity, depends on the material used, which is quite limited.

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