Monthly Archive: August 2016

Travel by Solar

The typical article on solar power and its relevance to green, eco-friendly, living would focus on panels for your home and office. There would be plenty of expounding on the money saved on your electric bill and how you might actually get the electric company to pay you by selling them the solar power your harness.

But since we spend less time at home than we do on our way somewhere, a solar powered answer to travel is probably worthy of discussion. Believe it or not, people have been creating solar powered vehicles since the 1950s.  Of course, capabilities are far improved now. So let’s take a look at all the technological advancements that have allowed us to travel on the power of the sun.

Travel by Solar

Solar Powered Vehicles

People travel by land, sea, and air and now they can do that on the Sun’s dime. Solar powered vehicles are undoubtedly the wave of the future and the following inventions are at the top of the list:

  • Solar Cars– These are generally built by engineers hoping to compete in solar car races like the World Solar Challenge (read about it here), and they can far surpass the legal speed limits. Unfortunately, the nature of the panel placement requires these cars to be too wide for average road space and they can usually only house the driver. This is keeping them race bound, but eventually they will be found on our roads and maybe you will own one.
  • Turanor Planetsolar– The most famous solar boat is also the first solar vehicle to circumnavigate the globe. This boat can carry up to 60 people and can hit 14 knots though its average speed is at 5 knots. You could stock the pantry, pack the closets, find the best memory foam mattress, and make this ship home. You’d never have to fill it with gas and you could traverse the world! Unfortunately, it is currently hanging out on the Gulf Stream as a commissioned research vessel (maybe you could join the team).
  • Solar Impulse– A groundbreaking vessel, this is the first solar powered plane to cross the continental USA. Its improved version, the Solar Impulse II was the first to circumnavigate the globe (read more about that). The initial design could cruise at 40 MPH at up to an altitude of 39,000 feet. And, it could fly at night!
  • Vili Solar Train– This train launched in Hungary. It carries people on a scenic route near Budapest, between Kiralyret and Kismaros. This train has a rather unique and quite impressive ability to carry a group of passengers in its cabin. While it only goes 15 MPH that makes this train great for sightseeing enjoyment.
  • Tindo Solar Bus– Launched in Australia, this is the first solar-powered electric bus. It is fuel-free and doesn’t cost a dime to ride. It’s air conditioned and can carry up to 40 people! The city of Adelaide claims that this bus has saved them over 70,000 Kg in CO2 emissions each year.
  • Solarcopter– Meet the world’s first quadcopter powered entirely by solar energy. The copter is a student project based out of London’s Queen Mary University. It is a drone, not a passenger vehicle, and still in prototype form but the student inventors have high hopes. You can learn more about it by clicking this.

Travel by solar is on the rise. Keep your eyes out for more vehicles in this realm.

Access to the Latest Solar Energy News

The solar energy field is no stranger to the rapid pace at which new technology can be developed.  Just in the past 10 years, the solar power industry has seen many advances designed to make solar panels more affordable and more durable.

For example, in 2010, certain systems were able to produce electricity at increased rates due to changes in the function of the parabolic troughs and tracking systems, resulting in a more efficient product that was also considered low cost.

Finding cutting edge research on the topic can provide you with insight as to the developments that have yet to come to market, some of which are in their earlier research phases, as well as provide follow up information on technologies that have recently gained in popularity within the consumer or business market.

Access to the Latest Solar Energy News

Open Access Publications

If you are looking for access to high-level scientific research without having to invest in subscriptions to industry publications that may not be focused on subjects of personal interest, consider open access publications.

Open access is a publishing philosophy centered on bring high quality, peer-reviewed materials to the masses.  This allows those who are performing research in specific fields to have their material read by many while the readers get the benefits of no subscription fees.  Publications that have open access material can be found across many subject areas, including science, technology, and environmental sciences.  Some open access publications have more focused content, covering only articles on incredibly specific topics, while others have a somewhat wider base.

Projects like Open Access in Action, a collaboration between Dove Press and the Library Journal, aim to provide great access to cutting edge technology information, especially in the areas of medicine and science.  The Directory of Open Access Journals is another source of articles and publications that are publicly available, with some included works focusing on the development of green energy solutions, such as solar power.

News Providers

Many large-scale news outlets also dedicate sections to science, technology, and the environment, such as the Science & Environment section from BBC News.  While solar energy may not be their only area of concern, many innovators welcome coverage from larger news outlets in order to spread the word about their activities.  This can include development of new, more efficient products, as well as data demonstrating the benefits of using alternative energy sources, such as solar power.

Other, more focused online sources, such as Science Daily, also offer a wide range of coverage of topics relating to the environment and technological advances.  Though the publications may be smaller overall, their focused content can provide a high amount of value to those interested in the topics covered.

Cross-Over Publications

Other publications, such as Popular Mechanics, offer information regarding to developments in the solar power industry as it relates to the larger technology and mechanical fields.  While some material is secured behind a payment wall, making it only accessible to subscribers, other pieces of information are freely available to the public at-large.

Manufacturer’s Websites

Many manufacturers gladly provide information regarding some of their newest developments and product releases, at least in regards to function and cost.  The details of the mechanisms involved may be proprietary, but any increases in efficiency are often clearly voiced as a way to entice customers.  This can provide an excellent source of information for those looking to follow the industry from the business level.