University research team shows solar energy extends electric vehicle driving range

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Windsor Star/Julie Kotsis

A team of researchers at the University of Windsor and a local solar technologies company have collaborated to prove the benefits of solar power in extending the driving range of electric vehicles.

By harnessing the sun’s rays through rooftop panels, Unconquered Sun Solar Technologies founder and CEO Sean Moore says the driving range can be extended an average of 45 per cent further.

“Every second your foot’s not on the accelerator, when that vehicle’s in the sun, it’s charging,” Moore said. “This way, you have a generator … on your roof.

“Obviously if it’s nighttime or if it’s in a garage, you can just plug it in the wall and it recharges that way too.”

Associate professor Narayan Kar led a team of three PhD students, a masters student and a senior undergraduate in studying the vehicle rooftop solar technology. He said months of research and testing — partially funded by a $20,000 federal research grant received almost a year ago — helped them prove the scientific benefits of solar panels and to show the financial benefits.

The University of Windsor Centre for Hybrid Automotive Research and Green Energy (CHARGE) published a report Dec. 11 outlining the team’s findings. They are expected to publish further technical papers next month.

“What’s great about it is it validates the technology,” Moore said. “It really helps us gain traction in the market … all the research validating the extended range and all the different benefits of having a renewable energy generator on the roof of your car.”

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