The sun doesn’t always shine.
The typical energy usage for the current crop of electric automobiles is 280 watt hours per mile in open road travel.
A currently available one meter wide commercial solar panel is rated at 300 watts. If one panel is placed on each side of a dual direction guideway, 3218 panels would fit in a mile. During every hour of sunlight, each 300 watt panel collects enough solar energy to power an electric car 1.07 miles. While in the tube, an energy saving is estimated to double travel due to the reduced weight of the system’s car, as well as greatly reduced air and rolling resistance.
A system vehicle would then travel 2.14 miles on an hour of sunlight. Phoenix Arizona averages 6.29 hours of full sun a day. One panel would power a system vehicle 13.46 miles per day. The 3218 panels on a mile of dual direction guideway would provide, on average, 43,316 miles of solar travel each day. New York City only gets 4.49 hours of sun a day but a mile of solar panels would still deliver 30,920 miles of travel.
At $270 each, a mile of panels would cost $868,860. Adding the necessary electrical equipment and mounting gear would bring the costs to approximately $1,200,000 per mile. Compared to automobiles getting 30 mpg, the fuel savings would more than pay for the solar panels in the first year. Solar technology is also rapidly evolving, in the same analysis made four years ago, the cost of the solar energy was twice as much.
(Note: It is expected that some of the energy produced in the solar cells will be lost in converting it to usable vehicle energy. The solar panels used in the example above only cover about 70% of the guideway’s surface so when that area is added to production it should compensate for energy conversion loses.)
Each mile of dual guideway is capped with solar panels that can power system vehicles over 40,000 miles per day.
It is true that the sun has its moments and the output from the solar panels will not power the total need. The estimate above, Phoenix would provide enough electricity to power the equivalent of 3.6 hours of rush hour traffic on a 6 lane expressway. One option is to broker power with the electric grid by buying and selling power depending on when there is excess or need.
The vehicle’s batteries could be used as a collective storage media by having cars put energy back into the system when needed. Cars can also run on battery power while in guideways.
Ultimately, the goal is to use as little fossil fuel produced electricity as possible. An electric car using coal produced power has the same carbon footprint as a gas engine car.
Solar Tubular Transit is a redesigned successor to
Tubular Guideway Transit. http://www.tubularguidewaytransit.com/html/TGTnew.html