Solar Powered Planes, Cars and Boats Set New Records in Sustainable Transportation

With recent advancements in solar technology, engineers are coming up with some interesting applications for solar power, including solar powered aircrafts, boats, golf carts, and cars. 

Over 100 years after the Wright Brother’s first successful flight, Solar Impulse, a solar-powered plane, has taken solar energy to the next step pledging to fly around the world in 2015 with not an ounce of fuel. Solar Impulse has already completed an 87-minute night flight, a flight across the United States, the world’s first solar intercontinental flight, and flights throughout Europe to promote increased investment in clean technology and renewable energy.

Solar Impulse

Solar Impulse

To hear more about the history and future goals of Solar Impulse, watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5Lz04m-xOk

From the sky to the sea, an interest in solar powerboats and yachts has also emerged recently. As of 2014, designs for the first “floating island yacht” have been publicized. To power this man made paradise is the job of none other than solar panels. They power the boat as well as provide shade, air conditioning, and any other needs for the 12 residents and four staff members that can live comfortably onboard this yacht at a time. 

Osros floating Island

Osros floating Island

In terms of speed, the annual DONG energy Solar Challenge or World Cup for Solar Powered Boats, in the Netherlands has provided a spotlight for some of the top solar engineers of today. 40 teams representing eight countries may join in one of three different classes increasingly more technologically advanced. Gaining popularity since it’s beginnings in 2008, this is one of the biggest global solar races drawing even teams from as far as Brazil. 

Watch more about the DONG energy solar challenge:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jmt3HZQty44


If some of these vehicles are a little too big for your personal property, there’s always the solar golf cart. Even with an existing golf cart, solar kits can be bought and have a US Federal Income Tax credit of 30% of purchase price (Investment Credit section12 C). 

Solar Golf Carts

Solar Golf Carts

For a long distance adventure, the Sasol Solar Racing Challenge promotes innovation in alternative fuel vehicles, specifically solar vehicles. The race is a loop through the whole country of South Africa and occurs ever two years since 2008. It is not the only solar race though. Others include the World Solar Challenge in Australia, the North American Solar Challenge in the mid west United States, Tour de Sol in Switzerland and the Solar Car Challenge for High School Students in America. These events promote not only the use of renewable energy, but also merit in STEM fields and environmental sustainability. 

Tokai Challenger Solar Car

Tokai Challenger Solar Car

Watch this video about the “Tokai Challenger”, winner of the 2010 Sasol Solar Challenge: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJSpF4-JdIE