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Electric Vehicles and Solar Power, a Match Made in Japan

Solar Powered Electric Vehicle, Perfect Setup?
Solar Powered Electric Vehicle, Perfect Setup?

Renewable transportation seems like the most obvious solution to the simultaneous need for emissions-elimination and personalized and flexible transportation, but there’s still a ways to go before electric vehicles can be completely renewable.

Of course, depending on where you live, recharging your electric vehicle could be fairly close to emissions-free. Unfortunately, this is often not in the hands of electric vehicle owners. Rather, they must rely on the energy mix their particular region utilizes. In the US, for example, each region and state has a varying mix of renewable and non-renewable energy sources. Vermont is about 94% renewable, while Florida is about 13% renewable. If you want to buy an electric vehicle and make it as clean as possible, you’re out of luck if you don’t fancy moving to Vermont.

Combining renewable energy, such as solar power, seems like it could be the perfect match for electric vehicles, but it depends on the size of the panels and the batteries in both the charging station and the electric vehicle. In fact, some of Tesla Motors‘ Superchargers are supposed to be, at least partially, solar powered. In Japan, Toshiba and Honda are partnering to see how well solar power and electric vehicles go together, a match made in heaven?

The “Field Test Project Related to Utilization of Small Electric Vehicles, etc, in Miyakojima City, Okinawa Prefecture, Honda Motor Company and Honda R&D” project launched January 28, 2014, and will run until March 31, 2016. Toshiba has built electric vehicle charging stations in three locations, at the government offices of Shimoji, Gusukube, and Irabu. The charging stations are solar powered and have onboard lithium-ion battery packs to store energy until needed. Toshiba also manufactures the batteries in the prototype electric vehicles, to be provided by Honda Motor Company.

Honda will provide a number of the micro commuter prototype, the Honda MC-β, a short-range electric vehicle. The Honda MC-β carries one or two passengers, up to 50mph and 37 miles, which is perfect for covering most people’s commutes and daily needs. Over the next couple of years, Honda and Toshiba will gather data regarding the viability of these short-range electric vehicles and the use of purely solar power to charge them.

Image © Honda Motor Company

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  1. Vermont’s electrical supply is not 94% renewable, or even “about” that – unless you count nuclear as renewable.  More like 50%


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