Not relying on gasoline and all of its political and environmental baggage is the key advantage of driving an electric car. But one British company called Romag adds another compelling possibility; being able to charge your car directly from the Sun.
The plastics and glass manufacturing company has developed a solar charging canopy called thee PowerPark. It is a sleek lightweight tubular canopy that sits unobtrusively in any parking lot. In fact it would be easy to cover wide swaths of open asphalt parking space with these devices. Not only will they keep your car cool and shaded on a hot summer day, but more importantly their solar panel roof will actually generate energy that can be used to charge the car. When there is no car in the spot, energy is contributed to the grid.
Romag has already built and installed the devices in their own facility parking lot and has plans to install them throughout the UK. Romag's Kevin Watson noted "The US would be an excellent market for the canopy."
The canopy is capable of generating 1.5 kw and in a typical Northern England year could generate 1100 kwh. At these rates 6 hours of bright sun should be enough to give a Chevy Volt 40 miles of electric diving. Pricing is said to be competitive with typical solar panel installations.
We could easily see these sweeping the parking lots of the world and encouraging the adoption of electric cars by offering free daytime charging with no additional strain on the grid.