The U.S. solar market grew 67 percent from a $3.6 billion market in 2009 to $6 billion in 2010, according to “U.S. Solar Market Insight: 2010 Year in Review..
“Unfortunately, its viability as a solar charging alternative (and, therefore, a green device) is somewhat usurped by its persnickety solar panels which require very direct and extremely bright sun conditions. Those who live in areas that aren’t reliably sunny should not expect to be able to charge the Solio by solar means on a very regular basis.”
"The U.S. utility market for solar is also expected to grow sharply over the next few years, but that will be possible only with government support, which solar thermal companies have been lobbying for.
"The loan to Solana (a 280-megawatt plant in Arizona) is really an investment in America’s environmental future because that loan will be repaid," Fred Morse, a senior adviser to Abengoa, said on a recent conference call."
Taking cars completely off the grid is tough. But a couple of recent developments paint a pretty positive picture of where things might be headed. CNET reports that several companies in Japan have teamed up for some grid-free EV charging.
Mazda, Think Global, EnerDel, and Itochu are testing charging units that power things up by storing the sun’s energy.
Solar panels attached to stationary grid-storage units designed by EnerDel will also have rapid-charging stations for the all-electric cars. The stationary storage units, gleaning and storing electricity from solar panels, will supply almost entirely solar-generated electricity for the cars.
The group of green engineers call themselves the EcoHawks and envision a future filled with plug-in hybrids just like the one theirs. But they know the best energy is renewable energy, so the EcoHawks accepted the challenge of taking their car off the grid. That explains the six monocrystalline solar cells on the roof of their workshop (shown above). The panels charge a battery bank the car plugs into when it needs a charge.
Photo: University of Kansas EcoHawks