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.
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.