Solar power could cover a fifth of an EV’s range

Solar power could cover a fifth of an EV’s range


Adding solar panels to electric vehicles (EVs) would add up to 1,500 free miles’ worth of driving a year according to Solar Team Great Britain. The estimated benefits have been announced to mark the start of the European Solar Challenge today (Friday 23rd September).

Using current technology, having solar panels mounted onto the roof of a car based in London, the vehicle would generate enough electricity to cover almost 1,500 miles. This is based on practical research carried out by the team which will race in next year’s World Solar Challenge race across Australia.

What’s more, recent advances on solar technology could triple that figure, with the free electricity potentially adding a crucial flexibility for those looking at EVs but who have no access to off street parking to recharge at home.

The team recognises that different cars would alter that available figure, but has calculated the added range based on a Renault Zoe. The compact EV has a real-world range in the summer of a little over 100 miles, with a 22kWh battery pack and rough roof area of 1,150mm x 1,600mm.

If the roof area were fitted with standard silicon solar cells, the total annual power production for a car based in London would be around 300kWh – enough to provide an increased range of 1,445 miles. This is the equivalent of more than 13 charge cycles and would cover a fifth (18 per cent) of the average UK annual mileage of 7,900 miles.

The figures are based on roof-top solar panels only and could be extended further by covering the bonnet for example. The climate would have the biggest effect though, with Solar Team Great Britain calculating that the same EV being used in Monaco would increase the solar-powered range by 31 per cent.

The European Solar Challenge is proving that the vast majority of countries can make use of solar power for motoring, with a 24 hour race being held at the historic Zolder racing circuit in north Belgium.

Find out more about the team at the Solar Team Great Britain website, or visit the European Solar Challenge page for more on the event.

Pictured is Cambridge University Eco Racing’s into the European Solar Challenge