As solar power gains worldwide popularity, scientists are discovering more creative ways to utilize the energy. We’ve noticed a new way solar power is being harnessed around the world and wanted to spend this week discussing whether or not these headlines are fact or fiction. Time to ask the question: will my next car be solar-powered?
Do you have a $146,719.86 car budget?
A Dutch start-up company, Lightyear, has set out to release a fully solar-powered vehicle by 2019. Driven by their hope for a cleaner and greener future, Lightyear recently won the Climate Change Innovator Award at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The theory behind the science is that humans drive around 9.5 trillion kilometers a year, and Lightyear reports this is the same distance it takes light to travel in a year. They believe owners of the Lightyear One can drive worry-free, knowing their car will sufficiently charge and run off the power of the sun with no issue. This means owners of the Lightyear One will not have to purchase gas, and will only need to maintain and update the panels located on the surface of the entire car. In 2019, Lightyear plans to produce 10 of these solar-powered cars. If you want to ride home in your very own fully solar-powered Lightyear car, you simply need a budget of approximately 119,000 euros, which converts to approximately $146,719.86 in US dollars. In 2020, Lightyear plans to produce 100 fully solar power cars, which will most likely sell at a lower price point.
Are solar-powered cars worth the hype?
While Lightyear is the first company to produce a fully solar-powered car, there have been other efforts from car manufacturers to switch to environmentally friendly power sources. For example, the latest model of the Prius (offered only in Japan) has a solar panel on the roof and aids the car in more efficient energy usage. However, there are many skeptics of these types of designs, urging that the solar panels don’t impact the mechanics of the car very much and only markup the cost for simply being on the roof. Besides the Lightyear One, any car with solar panels is not completely solar powered. Solar panels on cars aid the battery, allowing the car to run more efficiently for a longer time period, yet doesn’t actually replace the use of gas in the form of power. Tom Lombardo with engineering.com stated that cars with solar panels on the roof add approximately four miles to the car’s range. He emphasizes that the extra cost for the solar panels on the roof is not worth the higher price tag or the hype.
A game of solar-powered tug-of-war
Many scientists go back and forth in the argument for and against the use of solar power in cars. Many argue that the technology is not advanced enough yet for any real impact to be made on the environment or the owner’s wallets (as far as saving on gas or maintenance costs). On the contrary, many scientists argue that these recent advancements are earth-shattering, and if the public continues to purchase cars with solar panels on the surface, it will encourage car companies to make improvements to the use of solar energy in the car industry.
At J-Tech, we’re excited to see the advancements made in the auto industry regarding the use of solar energy as the form of power. We also understand that this tech has a long way to go, but want to encourage car owners to consider their options and conduct research before deciding for or against solar enhanced vehicles. If you have questions about how solar power might be used in your home or for your business, call us today for answers to all of your solar energy questions.