Technology Highlight - Tesla Electric Roadster + Solar Panels + Wind Turbine
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The purpose of this Tech Highlight is to point out the very real possibility of practical electric vehicles. The Tesla Roadster takes approx. 3.5 hours to charge, and, on a full charge, can go for about 245 miles - not too shabby, considering that other electric cars can take about 20 hours to charge and still don't go as far as the Tesla Roadster, but it still sounds pretty bad for a long trip - driving halfway there and then having to stop for 3.5 hours doesn't sound very good.
But, when you consider that they've been able to get solar panels to achieve about 21% efficiency in commercial applications, it's easy to see how a solar cell on top of the car could help prevent the battery from ever quite falling to zero, getting rid of the annoying stop in the middle of a trip - and possibly accelerating charging when you are stopped. If you want to make things just that little bit better - or throw in a supplementary system for conditions where you don't exactly have the optimal amount of sunlight - then a small wind turbine powered by the wind flowing over the car just might be ideal. Now, of course, neither of these supplementary systems are efficient enough to power a car on their own, but they don't have to - the core of the power system will be the energy you get from the power grid, which hopefully has something like a nuclear power plant instead of a coal-fired power plant at the center of it all. The solar cell and wind turbine are there to extend the life of the main battery.
This concept, I think, is what the future of high-tech energy systems will look like - a central, reliable system supplemented by things designed to make it all work just a little bit better.