After an around-the-world trip, through more than 40 countries, a school teacher named Louis Palmer just pulled up to the hall holding this year's UN Climate Conference.
Louis says that his 17-month, 32,000 mile trip proves that solar power can be an alternative to gasoline and fossil fuels.
We're not quite so sure about the claim, but we are pretty impressed by his car. The three-wheeled two-seater is mostly made of batteries, and has to tow a trailer that is 100% covered in solar cells to help keep the charge. When full charged, the car can travel at 55 mph, but he has had to plug the vehicle in several times (for example, in not-so-sunny Poland) because there wasn't enough sunlight.
While solar power has, in this case, proved to be a possible method of transportation, I tend to think that putting the solar panels in places that are sunny all the time, and can be oriented toward the sun (thus maximizing their efficiency) is a better use for them. Sticking them directly on the car does minimize transmission losses, but that's generally more than made up for by the efficiency of utility-scale solar.
It's a great demonstration though, and I applaud Louis' efforts. Hopefully someday all of our cars will be solar (and wind and geothermal and hydro) powered...because our grid will be fed by renewable energy.
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