Why aren’t we driving around in solar-powered cars already?
There are a few reasons why even the most advanced automobile companies haven’t been able to develop fully solar-powered cars.
The first and foremost reason is the solar panel itself. The current commercially operated solar panels that we use have only 15 to 20% efficiency. Hence, to power to a solar car, we would need to pack the space of the car’s body with solar cells. But doing so, it invokes two other problems – weight and cost.
Solar panels are not cheap, and they are not weightless either. Packing the car’s body with solar panels means that you are adding a lot of weight and cost to the car. And when you factor in the weight of the battery, the idea of the solar-powered cars seems less and less feasible for the real world.
On a clear day, the earth’s surface receives approximately 1 kW of solar energy per square meter.Given that a highly-efficient 4 square meter PV panels can generate roughly 8 kWh of energy per day, it will only drive your car for about 25 miles (40 km).
Poor weather conditions, improper positioning of the panels, and dirt would likely make your solar car struggle to reach this figure.
Additionally, solar-powered cars aren’t “100%” ecofriendly. If you look at the way batteries and solar cells are made, especially how they are mined from the earth, it becomes clear that each vehicle comes with its share of carbon footprint.
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