This solar-panel-equipped car must save its owner tons on battery life. But can it handle bridges with low clearance?
- Photovoltaic cells and what appears to be a mini wind turbine top this impressive van in Arlington, Va. (Photo: TBD Staff)
Biking through North Arlington recently, I spotted this incredible ride and was all but knocked senseless by its Eco Power. That is not one, but apparently three or more solar panels riveted to its roof. And it looks like a miniature windmill is stuck on there, too.
Naturally, my first reaction was to yell, "Transformers, roll out!" My second was to contact the owner of these green wheels and find out how he came to possess them, what kind of panel-drag he experiences while cruising at 65 m.p.h. down I-66, what hail insurance he has, whether his wind turbine is powering a little millstone that grinds coffee beans inside the car, if he's ever wound up back home with no solar panels left on the van, only to recall passing underneath a low-clearance bridge earlier that day, and so on.
Well, I have an e-mail out to the man. For now, there's good info on the meaning and logistics of this "fully functional hands-on renewable energy mobile classroom" on the website of the company that operates it. According to the Stella Group Ltd.:
This van is an education demonstration of renewable energy technologies and applications. The solar electric panels, small wind turbine, and hydrogen fuel cell store their energy in a smart battery bank which powers the all-weather flat video screen, the DVD player, and the sound/speaker system (They do not power the van itself).
Emphasis mine, as some people are probably wondering if the van chugs to a halt when the sun stays behind the clouds for a few minutes.
Here's another view: