Thanks to heavy investment in solar research and development over the past couple of decades, solar energy has become much more efficient and affordable. These advancements in solar technology, along with lower costs, have seen the solar sector branch out. Now, not only is solar energy used to power homes and businesses, it’s also beginning to make waves in the transport industry. Given the global push for sustainable, renewable energy sources, and the viability of solar power, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that there are plenty of great solar transport projects around the world.
The very first solar-powered car dates all the way back to 1955, so it’s clear that there was great interest in developing solar transport methods as soon as the technology really started to take off on a commercial level. This interest has continued to the modern day where companies like Toyota are striving to develop a solar car model, like the Toyota Prius, which can serve as a real alternative option for consumers.
Despite great progress in recent decades, there are still limitations to solar vehicles and they haven’t quite cracked the mainstream as of yet, a good alternative is an electric car which can then be indirectly powered by solar via an EV charger. Check out our recent blog post covering the topic of charging your electric car with solar to learn more.
In China, part of the effort to tackle their high level of carbon emissions has come in the shape of a solar-powered bus transit system. Steps like this, toward sustainable public transportation, could have a huge effect on CO2 emissions worldwide if implemented correctly.
China aren’t the first country to conjure up a solar bus program however, that honour goes to Australia. Back in 2013, in the city of Adelaide, the city council introduced a solar-powered bus program as a solution to their high rate of carbon emissions from public transportation.
The Solar Impulse, more recently upgraded to Solar Impulse 2, has been making its mark in the world of air travel. The Swiss-developed aircraft certainly looks impressive, and has even circumnavigated the earth in a multi-legged journey, but it’s unfortunately lacking in necessary power and speed requirements when compared to a conventional aircraft. However, with big investments, and a huge team of engineers and scientists behind the project, the Solar Impulse project will continue to progress.
With air travel making up a significant percentage of the transport sector’s global emissions, let’s hope that solar airplanes can be developed to the point of becoming a real alternative solution in the future.
In the United States, a huge percentage of CO2 emissions come from transportation, so don’t be surprised to see further investment in the research and development of solar-powered transport in the near future.
By Shane Croghan
Featured Image Source: NASA/Nick Galante [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons