Solar cars at the University of Waterloo

We rely on the sun for many things: food, warmth and good weather. But, have you thought about harnessing the sun’s power to reduce your hefty gas bills? 

That yellow orb in the sky illuminates many possibilities.

Solar cars essentially harness the sun’s energy through photovoltaic cells, which convert it into electricity. This energy is then stored in the battery of the solar car. Also, while gasoline engine cars convert around 15 percent of the energy from burning fuel into actually moving the car; solar power achieves an efficiency rate of about 20 percent. Although at first this may not seem like a significant improvement, keep in mind that we are now capable of capturing 20 percent of clean, renewable energy from the sun. In the future, as technology improves, the efficiency of solar energy is headed in one direction – up.

Although you won’t find any solar cars on the market just yet, many university and corporate teams as well as passionate individuals have been building their own models since the 1980s. The Midnight Sun Solar Rayce Car team is one example.

The future of solar cars looks bright – “sun-cars” have been gingerly tip-toeing their way into the automobile market as gas prices continue to soar, with companies vying to uncover methods to dodge gasoline dependence. With more research and commitment, solar energy may be part of the answer for energy-efficieny.