It was built by the US Department of Energy (DOE) and they claim it is the only surviving example of its kind.
In 1960, the DOE funded a project to build a solar powered electric car. They wanted to see if such a vehicle would be practical and affordable.
This is a great video because it shows us how far we’ve come since then. Today, we have cars that run on electricity generated from fossil fuels or nuclear power. But in 1960, there were very few options as what type of energy to use to power our vehicles.
The way this car uses solar power is quite clever. They designed the roof so that sunlight can heat up the water inside the car through the use of parabolic mirrors.
What I really like about this particular design is that it’s not just a simple solar panel. It actually concentrates the light throughout the day, making sure that your battery gets enough juice at all times.
A lead driver for this car explained their reasoning behind using this system: “Our main concern was weight…we didn’t want an enormous heavy battery.”
So instead of using a large, heavy battery, he came up with this idea, where they could heat up water into steam which would drive a turbine generator set. Because the process is reversible, when the sun goes down you don’t need any fuel at all.
So, will solar power completely take over the world? Or will other technologies continue to play a role? We may never know!
But one thing is certain; solar technology has improved by leaps and bounds since the early days of the US Department of Energy. When we look back at these early solar panels, we’ll probably wonder why anyone ever thought solar power wouldn’t work.