by Christina Sarich, Underground Reporter:
A Beijing car company is making the reality of solar-powered cars more palpable than ever. Until now, visionaries like Elon Musk have dreamed up an integration of both our travel and home energy needs so that we can run our computers, lights, washing machines — and, yes, cars — on solar power instead of fossil fuels.
The only challenge with this worthy goal is that many have been wary of investing in an electric vehicle due to the absence of charging stations in their homes or neighborhoods. A Solution? Thin-film solar cells that are on the car, itself, to make a six-hour road trip possible.
A company called Hanergy, based in Beijing, China, has launched commercial solar-powered cars that could help customers take the leap of faith needed to transition from gas-guzzling, earth-polluting cars, to vehicles powered entirely by the sun.
While driving your solar car, it would recharge itself.
Hanergy says the current solar energy conversion rate of its high-end solar cells is 31.6 percent. This is expected to go up to 38 percent by 2020, to 42 percent by 2025, and would make the production of four different types of solar-powered cars possible.
The energy is stored in lithium batteries and can also be charged at charging stations to further increase the travel range. The combined battery and solar range for their cars is 350 kilometers (217.48 miles), with a solar-only range of 80 kilometers (49.71 miles).
Like a small space station, the solar panels can also be unfolded like origami to extend the charging surface area when the car is parked. A full solar charge can be achieved in six hours using this technology.
The cells even respond to changes in the weather. They can also clean themselves with “ultrasonic cleaning technology” to utilize the utmost renewable energy available to us by a blazing star that provides enough juice to power the entire planet for millions of years.
Automobile pollution and fossil fuel use has contributed heavily to the environmental burden our planet has to bear, but this no longer needs to be our reality. There are even prototypes for solar-powered cars that create more energy than they use.
Fortunately, companies like Hanergy and Tesla are meeting the growing demand for alternative-fuel cars. The global market for cars that run on something besides fossil fuels reached a whopping 740,000 units last year.
Hanergy plans to extend its solar-technology for use on buses, recreational vehicles, tour buses, and catering trucks. Maybe they can team up with homeowners, as well, for fully integrated use of solar power.
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