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Alternative Energy, what is the logical next step for America Part II?

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G. David Felt

Staff Writer Alternative Energy - CheersandGears.com

August 22, 2012

Alternative Energy, what is the logical next step for America Part II?

Join me as I write about the various forms of alternative energy and how I see them stacking up in today’s market place.

Green Fuel Solar

The holy grail of the auto industry would be to have all autos have a body of solar panels that can create and store the energy and then use it to power the auto and all internal devices.

The first solar car race was in 1983 a trek from Perth to Sydney Australia. In the 1987 race the GM Sunray car completed the 3010km trip with an average speed of 67kmh setting in motion a research and development race among solar teams.

All this auto technology from one of the earliest forms of energy conversion. A step backwards to give you a little history lesson on Solar. The development of solar cell technology begins with the 1839 research of French physicist Antoine-César Becquerel. The first genuine solar cell was built around 1883 by Charles Fritts, who used junctions formed by coating selenium with an extremely thin layer of gold. Early solar cells had energy conversion efficiencies of less than one percent. In 1941, the silicon solar cell was invented by Russell Ohl. Three American researchers, Gerald Pearson, Calvin Fuller and Daryl Chapin, designed a silicon solar cell capable of a six percent energy conversion efficiency with direct sunlight in 1954. The first public service trial of the Bell Solar Battery began with a telephone carrier system (Americus, Georgia) on October 4 1955.

Benefits of Solar are the ability to convert light into power which ends in an almost true zero emission. Creation of any product always has some form of greenhouse gas so no product is truly Zero Emissions. Yet with this said, lets list out the benefits of solar power:

  1. Minimal impact on the environment
  2. Requires little energy to run after initial build of the solar car.
  3. Reduces the need for petrol.
  4. One of the cheapest forms of power after initial investment to the end user.

Draw backs to Solar Energy:

  1. Requires ultra-light auto’s, will not pass government crash test for safety.
  2. Expense, solar panels are still very expensive.
  3. Light, most places do not have 8hrs a day of pure sunlight.
  4. Efficiency of current panel technology. Unreliable power source. Unable to drive them at night.
  5. Damage risk, the ability to handle impacts from flying objects.

While the potential for Solar is great and R&D is needed to get the most out of this source, it is far from prime time for use by the Auto Industry in anything other than novelty applications like a solar panel sun roof to drive the AC system when the car is parked to control internal temp.

There are companies today that are making solar roof panels for autos as a way to help increase MPG in hybrid cars. An example is you can purchase a Solar Roof for the Prius that costs from $2000 to $4000 dollars per car depending on what you want to accomplish and in some cases the cost is even higher. http://www.solarelec...alvehicles.com/ The ROI or Return on Investment makes many at this time doubt it is worth it. If Self-sustainable solar transportation is to become a reality there will need to have major break throughs in both storage and efficiency of capturing the energy of the sun. For the US to reduce air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and move to a long term energy dependence solution, investments must be made in alternative energy solutions today.

GM is pushing forward to at least use Solar in big ways to support their business. http://generalmotors...ward-solar-goal


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