Solar Car Powers up to Meet the Challenge
January 25, 2016

Tony Armstrong

In an innovative move, PSC, a global power systems consulting firm, has developed a solar powered car solution.

The development is part of a series of initiatives the company is taking in the renewable energy sector. This industry is an increasingly strategic one with current growth projections showing that, by 2050, there will be over two billion cars on the roads of the world. This massive growth in the global vehicle fleet is a reflection of a population that will top nine billion, with six billion living in urban centres.

All of this poses massive challenges for energy use, with demand estimated to grow above current requirements by a staggering 100%. We may just have enough fossil fuels available to meet this demand, but the 300 billion tonnes of carbon this would release poses potentially catastrophic changes for human kind.

People across the globe are increasingly recognising these challenges and seeking out opportunities for meeting them. For example, big solutions, like the Ivanpah concentrated solar thermal plant in California, are harnessing the sun to produce 392 megawatts of power.

These big ideas are exciting but the scale of the challenge is so great some would argue we need a new way to look at it.

PSC has started working on a new vision for the future based on a concept of decentralised responsibility.

Tony Armstrong, executive director of PSC, articulates the approach.

“Instead of looking for the big solutions to the big problems, we are exploring ideas based on decentralisation that would harness distributed energy resources such as solar and micro grids.

“The idea is that, like Ivanpah, if we could harness the power of the sun, but couple it with thoughtful, socially orientated investments, we might just be able to really make a difference.”

As a result of this thinking, PSC is installing its own solar arrays, beginning with the first on its roof of its Wellington offices.

These arrays will give PSC’s offices access to genuine solar power and also allow it to charge the PSC e-tron, a new vehicle design from Audi. The charging system will ensure that only solar power from PSC’s geographically diverse installations is used to charge this and other vehicles they plan to add.

Tony explains: “We have gone out of our way to create a system that ensures we have an EV that is charged by 100% solar power and can be used to commute to our meetings in the city. We recognise the technology is in its infancy but, instead of sitting back and waiting for others to show the way, we are embracing it, and learning and evolving from the challenges.”

Tony also has a challenge for other companies.

“If we look at this kind of technology with the traditional economic model, we won’t see its value. My challenge to other companies out there is to embrace this change and see its social value and develop their own solar arrays and EV charging stations.”

In the future, Tony can see major companies operating fleets of solar powered cars with free charging at each other’s premises. It’s a radical idea but, given the radical nature of the challenges, this is the kind of thinking PSC thinks we need.

“We are headed for trouble and our future is in doubt, and it’s time to evolve, learn and develop a new way to look at these problems. The PSC solar powered car is our own small first step in the journey and we plan to understand the issues and challenges and move our business forward into a new future. We think it’s about being corporately responsible and are hoping this leadership will inspire others to join us. ”

PSC has begun this journey with the solar powered e-tron and Tawa-based solar array.