Solar tech to boost electric car range

Cape Town – Solar technology could play a significant role is extending the range of electric cars, says a manufacturer.

“I think the applications are endless. When you look at cars – being an outdoor product – the technology we have is made to be out doors and in order to optimise the intrinsic value of technology would be apply it an electric car,” John Anderson CEO of World Panel told Fin24.

The company debuted a solar charger at the AfricaCom tech showcase in Cape Town, but Anderson’s ambition stretches to electric cars.

READ: This R199 solar charger powers up your phone

The company has a patent for its technology which has a high throughput of solar energy.

“It takes 99% of the energy that hits the panel through to the device – the terminal. I really have this vision that I can put my technology on the top of a Tesla or Leaf and drive that energy directly into the storage and then add miles every day from just parking it outside,” said Anderson.

Extended range

He estimated that the application of solar panels to an electric car such as the Nissan Leaf would extend the range of the vehicle by 160km.

Solar powered cars have attained speeds of 100km/h and a range of 3 000km in competition, but are often impractical for road use. The Sunswift V car built by the University of New South Wales more closely resembles a road legal vehicle.

Anderson said that solar panels on an electric car could change the game in terms of range, and simplifies the technology.

“If you put the plug on it all day long, you’re going to get hundreds of miles. I think it simplifies it. If we’re constantly putting energy into a storage battery let’s say. All day long, it’s always being charged.”

He argued that the technology may also work for hybrid vehicles which typically have smaller batteries to power the cars at slow speeds.

Anderson said that it was important that battery technology catch up so that car manufacturers can exploit solar energy.

“The reason solar technology is so prevalent is because of the low cost now. The reason for the solar price crash was because of scale and I think the same Moore’s Law can apply to battery technology too: The more there is, the lower the price.”

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