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The Role of Solar Energy in the Future of Electromobility

2023-10-11

The Role of Solar Energy in the Future of Electromobility

Energy supply is one of the central issues of our time, and solar energy plays a crucial role in this context, becoming increasingly important in the future. The field of mobility is also of utmost importance, as it is a fundamental requirement for social participation and economic growth. It seems logical and necessary, therefore, to bring these two areas together. The introduction of electromobility marked a significant first step, and with the announcement or decision to phase out combustion technology, the transition was solidified. There seems to be no turning back. Almost all automakers are in the midst of transformation, with new manufacturers like Tesla or Fisker exclusively producing electric vehicles, making Tesla the undisputed most profitable automaker globally.

The exact form of future mobility is still unclear, such as the prominence of individual transport compared to public transit. However, it appears reasonably certain that future transportation will be electric.

Basics of Solar Energy in E-Mobility: How It Works

The principle of solar energy in electromobility is relatively simple. Solar cells capture solar energy and convert it into electricity, which is then directed as direct current (DC) to an inverter. This inverter transforms the DC into alternating current (AC) and channels it into the household electrical circuit. Through a wallbox connected to the electric vehicle, the electricity is used to charge the vehicle. One could rightly describe the solar panel on the roof as a rooftop gas station. Since the average daily mileage of a car is about 37 kilometers, the charging capacity should be sufficient for most drivers. Moreover, many destinations such as workplaces or supermarkets now have charging facilities for their employees or customers. Solar solutions particularly leverage their advantages in electromobility in these areas, ensuring sustainable transportation.

Advantages of Integrating Solar Energy into Electric Vehicle Systems

The advantages of integrating solar energy into electric vehicle systems are evident. The energy is available as long as the sun is shining, requiring no further effort. There's no need to deliver electricity with supply vehicles, which would cost additional energy and further burden the environment. Once solar energy can be stored on a large scale and is permanently available, the issue of darkness is resolved. Another significant advantage of solar energy is that energy production using solar cells is especially low-maintenance and requires minimal upkeep. Additionally, solar technology doesn't have moving parts, unlike wind energy, making it less hazardous to wildlife. In fact, studies have shown that vibrant flora and fauna can develop beneath solar fields, as long as the areas are not additionally used for agriculture.

Innovative Projects and Developments in Solar-Powered Electric Vehicles

A promising and extensively tested solar-integrated motorhome has been developed by students at the University of Eindhoven. The project, named "Stella Vita" features a vehicle that is 7.2 meters long, 2.05 meters wide, and 1.83 meters high. The solar capacity can be extended, reaching a total area of 17.5 square meters. The vehicle was conceived in just three months, and within the next five months, the completed E-Camper model successfully completed a test drive of about 2,000 kilometers. On a sunny day, the vehicle, equipped with a 60 kWh battery, could cover up to 730 kilometers. The integration of solar panels into an electric vehicle, in this case, is a significant success. Moreover, the vehicle, produced using lightweight construction, still features the luxuries of a motorhome, including a shower, refrigerator, charging facilities for tablets and phones, and typical technical monitoring systems that keep the user informed about all technical parameters such as battery charge level, incoming power, range, and more. Other projects have been implemented, and even a commercial version is not ruled out. Primarily, the goal is to be a trailblazer and serve as inspiration.

Challenges and Solutions for Solar Energy in E-Mobility

To date, charged electricity in an electric vehicle remains within the vehicle until it is consumed by the vehicle's use. However, bidirectional charging is expected to play an increasingly prominent role in the future. This entails supplying stored energy to the household power grid and the public power grid. The electric vehicle thus gains an additional function and becomes an external electric storage unit.

Specific challenges, however, are posed by legislation and the skeptical attitude of parts of the population towards electromobility in general. Nevertheless, historical transformations, such as the shift from analog to digital photography, show that with increasing quality and maturity of products, acceptance grows. It is expected that acceptance in sustainable energy production and electromobility will only be a matter of time. This assumption is supported by the steadily increasing numbers in all mentioned areas, including energy storage, both private and commercial.

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