Making the most of the sun in sunny So Cal
I really love this concept and when Ford invited me down to their Los Angeles Regional Office (in Irvine?) I jumped on it. I'm a solar kinda guy, made the decision to fall off the grid last year and don't regret it at all. A plug-in hybrid with a solar panel on the roof should have been a no-brainer, but it took the folks like Mike Tinskey at Ford and his team to come up with a way to make it practical. Mike is the Global Director of Vehicle Electrification and Infrastructure so he knows a lot about this topic.
Solar panel efficiency has gotten better in recent years, now up to 21% of energy captured converted to power. This isn't enough however to give a full charge to the car in an average city like someplace back east like Charleston SC, but in a city like Los Angeles the potential is there to bring the batteries to a full charge during the course of an 8 work day.
Ford teamed up with the folks at Georgia Institute of Technology and came up with a carport looking lens concentrator that would effectively increase the amount of light hitting the panel to maximize electricity production. The car is on a platform that would move and track the sun during the course of the day to ensure best possible light concentration on the panel. This technology primitive as it is hints at greatness to come. Imagine it. Plug in at night, drive your 20 miles or so to work in EV mode, charge by the sun and drive home the other 20 miles on a solar charge home.
Why is this important? A lot of reasons. We are cursed with the highest density and gridlocked traffic where this bump and go is actually the EV/Hybrids strength as all that stopping is an opportunity to regenerative brake charge the batteries. The use of a hybrid/EV serves to lessen significantly the pollutants and green house gases being emitted all working to give us cleaner air.
Interesting stats came out of this meeting. The last couple of years the hybrid/EV has accounted about 3-4% of all car sales here in the U.S. The startling bit of that stat is that fully half of those sales took place right here in California. Leaders in the transition to sustainable CLEAN transportation.
A few nifty factoids on the CMax Solar Energi concept and the potential it represents.
· C-MAX Solar Energi Concept eliminates the need to plug in and charge a hybrid vehicle altogether. It harnesses the power of the sun by using a special concentrator that acts like a magnifying glass, directing intense rays to the panels on the vehicle’s roof
· C-MAX Solar Energi Concept represents an exciting possibility for the future of mobility. This prototype is part of Ford’s vision for imagining what sustainable transportation will look like in 2024 and beyond and the near-, mid- and long-term steps we must take to get there
· Internal Ford data suggest the sun could power up to 75 percent of all trips made in a solar hybrid vehicle. That means a typical owner can avoid sending more than four metric tons of greenhouse gas emission into the atmosphere ever year.
· According to our climate scientists, if all light duty vehicles (cars and trucks) in the US adopted this approach, we’d reduce greenhouse gas emission (GHG) by more than 1 billion metrics tons per year.