For decades people have dreamed of being able to harness the energy of the sun to power their automobiles. Solar powered vehicles have been in the works for years and the technology has improved greatly since the creation of the first completely solar powered car. Current batteries are able to store vast amounts of energy in a much more efficient manner. The common complaint about solar power has always been its reliability however, and what will the car use for power on cloudy days when solar panels cannot fully recharge. Many attempts have been made to deal with these disadvantages and there have been some useful strides in recent years.
The first completely solar powered car was built in 1984 and since that time there have been numerous scientific challenges put forth as to who can build the first truly efficient and practical solar vehicle. In a time of increased carbon output and potential shortages of fuel in the coming years there has been an emphasis placed on developing alternative fuels for use in automobiles. Solar power is the first logical choice since it is the first and most abundant source of free energy present in our environment. To capture this energy for immediate use, as well as when power cannot be harnessed, has been an ongoing challenge to solar power researchers.
Since the construction of the first completely solar powered car, engineers have been looking for ways to integrate the technology into current trends. Such endeavors have resulted in cars that utilize solar panels placed on the roof to power the climate controls or other internal electronics. These innovations have gradually help to reduce some of the uncertainties regarding the reliability of solar power with the creation of better batteries and electronic components.
Supplementing the cars power supply with solar power can reduce the amount of fuel that it uses of other varieties, but perhaps the biggest innovation lies in the electric cars ability to recharge while at idle. The electric car operates on much the same principle as a solar powered car except that they rely largely upon their rechargeable battery. Solar powered cars may harness and store energy by the same means but in the end it all still comes down to battery power. The ability to recharge the vehicles fuel supply regardless of external forces is the greatest challenge to solar powered vehicles. As long as the consumer can find a more readily available means of refueling the additional costs that are involved with going solar versus the advantages simply aren’t worth the cost.