Friday, December 5, 2008

2008: first solar car drives around the world

On December 4, after driving more than 32,000 miles through 38 countries, the Solartaxi arrived at the World Climate Change Conference in Poznan, Poland. It was the first time a solar powered car has made it all the way around the world. (It did not drive across the oceans.)

The Solartaxi is an electric vehicle with a 15-foot-long trailer covered with about 65 square feet of solar cells. The electricity is stored in a newly invented Zebra battery, so the car can drive without any sunshine, even at night. The solar cells on the trailer produce enough electricity to run the car over 60 miles a day.

If the crew needs to charge the battery with additional solar power to drive more 60 miles a day, they have a novel way of getting additional power.

They have a solar power plant on a rooftop in Berne, Switzerland. This electricity is fed into the grid, offsetting electricity generated by using fossil fuels. It's like depositing money into a bank account and withdrawing the money from another branch. They feed solar electricity into the grid and charge it into the battery anywhere in the world, from the grid.

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