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Average Joe
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My vision for the future of personal transportation involves an at-home solar-charging electric vehicle. The vehicle would be fully electric, running off of affordable lithium-based light-weight high-capacity high-discharge batteries. The vehicle charges overnight in a garage or near a parking facility. The charging facility (garage or otherwise) has a bank of much cheaper flooded lead-acid batteries in which it charges by means of a building exterior (roof and sides) made of high efficiency silicon solar and polymer solar skin. This allows for as free of energy as possible, only costing the driver vehicle maintenance.

This concept is nothing new. It isn't often seen because the current technology required is very cost prohibitive, however that is looking to change very soon.

It is assumed that flooded lead-acid batteries will always be cheaper than their higher tech counterparts, which is why they are used here. The trade off with those batteries is always size and weight. In a house or a garage, that isn't nearly the issue.

The two biggest technologies required here are efficient solar collectors and lighter, smaller batteries for the vehicle. Here are some promising new technologies that hope to solve these problems:

Here is a simple clip art diagram to illustrate the idea.

Text Line Font Diagram


This concept is nothing new. It isn't often seen because the current technology required is very cost prohibitive, however that is looking to change very soon.

It is assumed that flooded lead-acid batteries will always be cheaper than their higher tech counterparts, which is why they are used here. The trade off with those batteries is always size and weight. In a house or a garage, that isn't nearly the issue.

The two biggest technologies required here are efficient solar collectors and lighter, smaller batteries for the vehicle. Here are some promising new technologies that hope to solve these problems:

For the in-home energy storage:
$1/Watt solar cells ready for mass production - This would enable a consumer to cover their roof in this type of solar cell which on a sunny day would provide most of the electricity required for a charge.
Plastic, paintable solar cells - Painting the walls and other exterior with this could supplement the power required.

For the vehicle's battery pack:
A123 Systems - This company makes a few different models of battery which boast incredible storage capacities and discharge rates, ideal for an EV. Unfortunately they don't sell to individuals but with any luck a deal will be worked out in the future. It's a matter of time before costs come down, availability goes up and we will be seeing these in EVs.
Lithium iron phosphate - This newer technology is much safer and lighter than previous generations of Lithium-based cells. The downside is a lower voltage and energy density, but It is still looking promising for use in EVs.

Imagine normally not having to pay for fuel! Believe it or not, it's a reality. The average person drives under 30 miles per day. With a very efficient solar collection system, you could collect that much energy on a sunny day for only the initial cost of materials, which is shrinking. With this system, you pull in to the garage at the end of the day, plug in over night and you're fully charged and ready to go again every morning.
 
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