The environmental and climate balance of electric cars improves significantly when they are charged with green energy. It is not far from this realization to the idea of solar cars. Ideally, these no longer need to be charged externally at all, because they store the extracted solar energy directly in their battery. In practice, however, the implementation of this vision is still quite difficult. The Munich startup Sono Motors has been working on a solar car from Germany for several years now. So far none of the vehicles have been delivered. The extra range of the integrated solar cells is in any case rather meager: it is in the double-digit kilometer range per day. Researchers at the University of Newcastle in Australia are therefore taking a different approach: they printed ultra-thin solar panels on 18 tarpaulins, each 18 meters long. They now want to use it to transport a Tesla about 15,000 kilometers along the Australian coast.
The thin solar cells are relatively cheap
The trick: the sun sails are not attached to the outside of the vehicle, but disappear in the trunk while driving. During standstill, they can then be removed and generate electricity. The tour is currently planned to last a total of 84 days. This would result in a range of more than 170 kilometers per day. However, the conditions in Australia are also ideal for the planned project: there is enough space to regularly unroll the tarpaulins and the sun shines regularly and strongly. The ultra-thin solar panels have a number of advantages: they are robust and can be rolled up, making them easy to transport. In addition, the production is relatively simple. The solar cells were applied to the tarpaulins with a simple label printer. The costs are also very low, around ten dollars per square meter. However, it is also the case that the thin solar cells are not nearly as efficient as classic, thick solar panels.
Schools stimulate sustainable energy supply
The journey along the Australian coast is therefore always accompanied by a research team. In this way, the scientists want to test the actual performance of the ultra-thin, roll-up solar cells under realistic conditions. The experience gained in this way can then be used to develop specific application possibilities. On the other hand, it is quite unlikely that electric cars will come standard with solar plastic tarpaulins in the trunk in the future. Because no matter how interesting the approach is, in most cases there is simply not enough space and time to roll out the tarpaulins. However, the attention the researchers generate with their somewhat unusual tour must be used wisely. Among other things, 70 stops at schools are planned. A sustainable energy supply must be promoted here.
Via: The Standard