The buzzword in the auto industry for the past decade has been ‘electric.’ But now, a new contender is on the horizon: solar-powered vehicles. As our dependence on fossil fuels becomes increasingly unsustainable, researchers and manufacturers are putting pedal to the metal to make solar-powered transportation a reality.
From road vehicles like cars and buses to air travel, let’s dive into the progress and potential of solar power in transportation.
Solar Cars: The Sunrise of a New Era
Currently, we’re not at a point where solar cars can completely replace gas-powered vehicles, but we’re not idling. Companies like Aptera and Lightyear are making significant strides in developing solar-integrated electric cars. These innovators aim to boost driving ranges and reduce charging needs, with the sun as their fuel.
Solar Aviation: A Flight of Fancy?
In 2016, Solar Impulse 2 made headlines as it completed a global circumnavigation powered solely by solar energy. Yet, we’re still far from booking a commercial solar flight. For now, the aviation industry is exploring solar power for ground operations and auxiliary power, easing the carbon footprint where they can.
Solar-Powered Public Transit: All Aboard
Cities around the globe are starting to test solar-powered buses and trains. Australia’s Byron Bay Train, which runs entirely on solar power, and China’s solar-powered trams are just a few examples of this shift. Though scalability is a challenge, these initiatives are promising signs of more sustainable urban transit.
The Road Ahead: Speed Bumps and Highways
The journey to solar-powered transportation isn’t without its challenges. Two significant speed bumps are energy storage and solar panel efficiency. But as technology advances and the push for sustainability becomes more urgent, we can expect exciting breakthroughs ahead.
Who knows? Our daily commute may soon involve stepping into a solar-powered car, hopping onto a solar tram, or even boarding a solar plane. While we wait for these solar dreams to become reality, we can start by powering our homes with solar energy.