Are Solar Powered Electric Car Recharging Stations Viable Today?

solar power for your EV
solar power for your EV

While the general opinion seems to be that electric car sales will continue to creep higher and higher, albeit at a pace slower than many had predicted, the subject of electric car recharging stations is also hitting the headlines. This subject has been intermingled with talk of solar power technology and the fact that potentially it is possible to create a solar powered electric car recharging station which would be ultra efficient.

We have seen some attention grabbing headlines with regards to solar powered electric charging stations but what is the reality and are we as close as many people are suggesting?

BMW joins the party

While solar powered electric car charging stations have been mentioned in the past, it was perhaps the introduction of a solar powered recharging package by BMW which put the technology back into the spotlight. This has created a very interesting debate with regards to current solar power technology and indeed whether the BMW announcement is a cute piece of marketing or is indeed viable today.

Do the figures add up?

There are some very basic and very thought-provoking calculations with regards to solar power and how many panels you would need to create sufficient power to recharge an electric car. It is perhaps a common misconception to assume that any power from solar powered recharging systems would assist, but it needs to be of the correct voltage and amperage for the electric car batteries involved.

Quote from ElectricForum.com : "One aspect of environmentally friendly driving which is becoming more and more popular is the introduction of solar panels to electric vehicles. These are very environmentally friendly, very efficient and basically allow you to recharge your batteries while driving. The potential savings are enormous but how do you fit solar panels to your existing electric car?"

At this moment in time, if you dig a little deeper, it would not only take an enormous amount of solar panels to recharge your car batteries, but there is also the matter of night time charging to consider. The fact is that at this moment in time the vast majority of electric cars would be recharged overnight when in reality there will be little in the way of sunlight, therefore little in the way of solar power.

There are ways and means of storing solar power over a prolonged period of time which can then be used to recharge your car batteries, but the vast majority of electric vehicles need to recharged on a regular basis, probably daily.

Are we jumping the gun?

At this moment in time it seems as though effective and efficient solar powered recharging stations are still some way off. The basic technology is there and the concept is a viable but at this moment in time the efficiency of current solar power technology is not sufficient to fulfil current electric car charging needs.

However, it is not all doom and gloom because there have been significant advances in solar power technology and more will follow in due course. It is not inconceivable that sometime in years to come we could be in a position where mass production electric cars could be on the road with built-in solar power recharging systems that effectively "charge while on the move".

Conclusion

There has been much excitement and much comment with regards to solar powered electric car charging stations, perhaps brought on by the announcement by BMW. In theory there is no reason why we cannot develop an efficient and reliable solar powered charging system in the future but at this moment in time it seems as though the basic formula regarding light input and electric output is not in favour of mass production as yet.

It will be interesting to see developments in the short to medium term which should go hand-in-hand with developments in the electric car industry. The fact is that electric cars have been put forward as a form of eco-friendly travel and if we were able to convert sufficient solar power to effectively recharge electric vehicles on the move, would this not be the ultimate achievement?