This year, Climate Change Innovator Award was given to Lightyear One, a car that can run completely on solar power. The idea was perceived as impossible but the Ducth startup took the leap. Lightyear claims that Lightyear One can charge itself from sunlight. The card also provides a range of 400-800 km and can run for months without charging manually. Everyone wonders if such a car is possible.
Solar powered cars are one the most prominent things in everyone’s perception of the future. Fossil fuels are a burning on an alarming rate and humans are on hunt for new energy sources. In such a case solar energy is one of the best alternate energy sources present in abundance. But solar cars have always attracted skepticism from others while it electric car industry has high hopes from it. There are also some people who believe that such cars are impossible.
The reason of skepticism lies in previous attempts. A solar roof was fitted in Toyota Prius, it only added 4 extra miles to the range. Moreover, the roof worked only with a specific traditional battery charging system. In calculation, the power capacity of solar powered car under optimal conditions was disappointing. “Horsepower” is the unit to measure the rate at which work is done by the engine. The car with solar panel roof had a horsepower rate of 6.4, even a lawnmower (high-end) has 18hp engine.
Transitioning completely to solar
Lightyear has promised the first 10 cars to be delivered in 2019. Until this, solar powered cars were considered as a dream only. However, it is considered that Solar Assisted Electric Vehicles (SAEVs) are the best alternative to solar cars. Such cars gain an additional 100 miles as range. So many companies are thinking to release a car that runs only on solar power. But Lightyear has taken an extra step in innovation and thrashed all the notions by promising a vehicle that not completely runs on solar energy. That’s not all as the vehicle has also overcome all of the conventional challenges in this technology like intermittency and weak performance. If the product gets ready you would no more need to worry about fuel, just take the vehicle and tread anywhere. The configuration of your car will decide the range of your car, from 400 to 800 kilometers.
For years, the five entrepreneurs of Lightyear have been prototyping and iterating their concept with dedication. But until the concept gets finalized and a final product is delivered, no one can guarantee that someone could actually make fully-solar vehicles with record breaking range and high performance.
There had been so many minute signs of encouragement emerging all over the world. For instance, in 2017, the Byron Bay Railroad Company built a, one of its kind, completely solar powered train. Yes, the vehicle can only complete a limited distance but it shows that solar-powered vehicles are not completely out of reach of human possibilities.