Automaker Ford has announced a unique "sun-powered" hybrid vehicle that uses solar energy to charge its battery. The C-MAX Solar Energi Concept vehicle features a solar panel roof that uses a special Fresnel lens to concentrate sunlight onto the solar cells and boost the sunlight impact by a factor of eight (see figure and video below). According to Ford, a day's worth of sunlight will deliver the equivalent of an optional plug-in charge. The concept car is planned to be unveiled at CES.
Ford's C-MAX Solar Energi Concept hybrid vehicle has a rooftop solar panel system that uses a Fresnel lens to concentrate sunlight onto the solar cells to boost the sunlight impact by a factor of eight. (Courtesy Ford)
The Energy Information Administration reports that the average electricity use in homes has fallen to levels last seen in 2001 -- to 10,819 kilowatt-hours per household. According to the EIA, the drop can be attributed to more energy-efficient housing, appliances, and electronic products. (For more, see "Home electricity use in US falling to 2001 levels.")
Research firm IHS reports that solar inverter shipments will have grown from 9.9 GW in the third quarter of 2013 to over 10 GW for the first time in the year's fourth quarter. The report predicts that 2014 will be a record year for inverter shipments, and reach 41 GW.
In product news, startup Sol Chip Ltd. is offering an energy harvester photovoltaic cell chip. The Saturn 100 delivers six selectable voltages from 0.75 to 9 V and a maximum power of 4 mW (full sunlight) and 5 µW (office lighting).