sol ar and
Elec tric cars
POWERED BY THE SUN A solar-powered car
has a panel of photovolatic cells that convert sunlight
SECO FACT SHEET NO. 7
SOLAR AND ELECTRIC CARS P. 1
Renewable Energy and
Renewable energy was used for transporta-
tion long before any other energy source.
For hundreds of thousands of years, humans
used only their own energy to get around.
Later, they learned to use animals for this.
People and animals get their energy from food.
Since the energy in food comes from sunlight,
food is a form of renewable energy.
We eat plants, and plants are sometimes called
biomass. Biomass can also be used to produce
biofuels, like ethanol, to power our automobiles.
A few thousand years ago people discovered
that they could use the wind to move them
around. Think about how fast sailboats can
move. Wind is another form of renewable
But less than 200 years ago, people started
using fossil fuels (such as coal and oil) for
transportation. These fuels can»t last forever,
so they are not renewable. And they cause air
But with new technology, there are new
ways we can use renewable energy to get
around and reduce air pollution.
FACT SHEET 7 A RESOURCE FOR CLASSROOMS AND TEACHERS
Renewable energy for transportation
Solar-powered model cars: The Junior Solar
Electric- and gasoline-powered cars
and air pollution
Compare the doughnut energy used
Model Solar Cars
Model solar-powered cars have some parts
that are similar to a family car, but the power
system is very different. Here is how they
• a solar panel converts light energy from the
sun into electrical power
• that power is transmitted by a wire to the
motor, causing the drive shaft to turn
• the drive shaft causes the wheels to spin
• the spinning wheels move the car forward
Solar Race Cars
Since a full-sized race car»s solar panel is much
larger than a model car»s, it can capture more
solar energy and produce more electricity.
Solar race cars have a battery bank that