Posted by: carboncreditsusa | January 3, 2009

Solar Energy To Power Plug-In Electric Vehicles Will Encounter Limits To Solar Cells Electricity Production

“…the car’s panels will likely only get sufficient sun to generate its full 200 Watts just five hours a day, depending on the time of year — winter will be less, summer will be more. Five hours times 200 Watts means the car’s solar cells will produce between 1000-1,500 Watt hours of energy or about 1-1.5 kWh on average while parked. That’s enough to drive the car four or five miles, at most, assuming the system is 100% efficient, which it never is… “

“…A really good silicon-based solar panel measuring about 12 square feet — roughly the area of the roof of a car — and operating at around 20% efficiency produces about 200 Watts of power at 42 volts on a bright, sunny day. 200 Watts is about one-quarter horsepower…”

By Plugin America co-founder Paul Scott’s estimate, about a quarter of the owners of Toyota RAV4 EVs recharge them from solar panels mounted on the homeowner’s roof, including Scott. As long as the vehicle is parked at home during daylight hours, 100% of the energy being stored in the small SUV’s  horsepower   rating of the motor, improving its speed, acceleration or extend its range. You’d also increase the weight of vehicle.  

 Toyota  engineers can’t build a somewhat more practical vehicle. Venturi Automobiles in Monaco developed the Astrolab, a solar powered, tandem, two seater that it proved could run on the freeways of Los Angeles, surely the ultimate test of practicality, at least for balmy, Mediterranean-like climates. The car’s practicality in Chicago or Seattle might be limited, though Marcelo de Luz demonstrated this summer that his Power of One solar car could traverse the rugged Canadian wilderness — including encounters with wolves, moose and a possible alien spaceship  — to reach the Arctic Circle, the first solar car to do so.  




  1. Good to hear they’re taking the initiative to do this. It may not be very productive or powerful as yet but I’m sure as demand grows and companies put more $$ into research that these things will improve.

  2. We are interested in knowing if you have any commercial vehicle ( LCV / MCV ) which runs on solar energy

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