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Tyres  /  Tyre NewsMotoring  / Alternative car power - solar EVs and beyond

Alternative car power - solar EVs and beyond

Alternative car power - solar EVs and beyond

Solar electric vehicles (EVs) and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) are two alternative car power sources that have been gaining attention in recent years.

Both technologies have their own set of advantages and disadvantages, and further research and development is needed to make them more practical and cost-effective for widespread use.

So are they the future to the automotive industry? As it looks for better ways to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels.

Solar EVs

Solar EVs (SEVs) are much like regular EVs, however they use solar panels to convert sunlight into electricity, which is then used to charge the vehicle's battery.

The technology works much like the solar panels on the roof of a house.

Great strides are being made in this area - despite the technology still being considered to be in the early stages of development. The main difficulties are yielding enough power from more compact devices.

Sunny road

As such, until recently solar EVs were small, experimental vehicles with limited range and speed.

However, in 2023 the launch of several models into the UK market is set to take place - from brands such as Sion and Lightyear

The main challenge with solar EVs is the efficiency of the solar panels. In addition, solar panels can be large and heavy – making them a challenge to integrate into the design of a vehicle.

Advances in solar cell technology, such as the development of more efficient and lightweight solar cells, is at the cornerstone of the coming SEV models. Allowing the manufacturers to make solar EVs a more potential and viable option.

Hydrogen FCEV

Hydrogen FCEVs (fuel cell electric vehicles) convert the chemical energy of hydrogen into electricity to power the vehicle.

The main advantage of FCEVs is they generally have a longer range than EVs, and can also be refuelled quickly.

Hydrogen refueling

Whilst the biproducts of using hydrogen produce near-zero emissions - mainly it's just water - in a lot of instances the actual production of hydrogen relies on fossil fuels. This, as we all know, generates harmful greenhouse gases. 

Assessments since 2020 have concluded that hydrogen vehicles are still only 38% efficient, while battery EVs are from 80% to 95% efficient - see source.

There is also the issue that a hydrogen fuel infrastructure is currently very limited. On top of this, the production and distribution of hydrogen fuel is a costly one at present.

Alternative Energy

Both alternative power sources have their own set of challenges, but with the ongoing research and development, it is likely that a combination of different technologies will be needed to meet the demands of the transport sector in the future.

It's worth noting that other alternatives are being studied as well such as biofuels, compressed air vehicles and more.

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