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Why a Hybrid Solar Vehicle?

In these web pages the reasons for studying and developing a Hybrid Solar Vehicle are presented, and the related topics discussed:

  • fossil fuels, largely used for car propulsion, are doomed to depletion;
  • the CO2 generated by the combustion processes occurring in conventional thermal engines contribute to the greenhouse effects, with dangerous and maybe dramatic effects on global warming and climatic changes;
  • energy consumption and CO2 emissions related to car and transportation are increasing;
  • solar energy is renewable, free and largely diffused;
  • Photovoltaic Panels are subject to continuous technological advances and cost reductions...
  • ...but solar cars do not represent a practical alternative to conventional cars, due to limitations on maximum power, range, dimensions and costs...
  • ...while Hybrid Electric Vehicles represent an effective mid-term solution to the reduction of fuel consumption and of the related emissions;
  • Therefore, in principle, Hybrid Solar Vehicles could sum up the advantages of HEV and solar power, by the integration of Photovoltaic Panels in a Hybrid Electric Vehicle.
  • One may of course observe that the power obtained by conventional photovoltaic panels on the roof of a normal car is about two orders of magnitude less than the car maximum power: is it worth it?
  • On the other hand, recent statistics show that a significant percent of users drive their car mostly in urban areas, less than one hour per day and with only the driver on board;
  • and, in these conditions, the energy obtained by photovoltaic panels during driving and, mainly, the energy accumulated into the battery during parking mode, may represent a significant fraction of the energy required to propulsion.
  • In order to maximize the benefits of solar energy, a substantial re-design of the vehicle is needed, assisted by suitable methodologies and mathematical models.
  • New and advanced control systems and strategies are also required to optimize energy flows between vehicle components.

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