Progress towards vehicles that could run forever
Forget the obsession with driverless autonomous cars; energy independent vehicles (EIV) are the megatrend. Electric land vehicles, boats, underwater craft and aircraft already exist that never plug in or refuel. Most use solar cells for their power, storing the power for night use. They are not without shortcomings - few use bad weather harvesting and they waste much of the captured energy as heat. However, the good news is that these weaknesses can be fixed.
The best EIVs will charge batteries, even while stationary, using on-board energy harvesting equipment. Tethered aircraft charging ship batteries at tens of kilowatts have been demonstrated. You can buy boats that charge batteries by the propeller going backwards when the boat is moored in a tidestream and, with sailing boats, when under sail. In windy areas, a car could erect a wind turbine and extend more solar panels when parked. Spray-on solar is also promised.
Dr Peter Harrop of analysts IDTechEx enthuses, "Taken together, the multiple uses of energy harvesting for internal efficiency and for external sourcing of energy can give tenfold increase in performance by 2025. Structural electronics will take it further. Already, autonomous underwater vehicles already surface to convert solar and wave power. Even remote regions and developing countries will afford EIVs with near-zero operating cost and ultimate freedom of use. Today's demonstrations and plans shows this will encompass on- and off-road vehicles, boats, ships, airships and fixed wing planes. It will not all happen overnight but here is a huge new industry in the making."
The whole electric vehicle business is forecasted by IDTechEx to be around $450bn in 2026, rising strongly thereafter. As outlined in the new report Energy Independent Vehicles 2016-2026, IDTechEx expects that electric energy independent vehicles will become an increasingly significant part of this multi-billion dollar industry.
The report provides unique insight into electrical EIVs on land, on water, underwater and in the air with the electric vehicle market addressable by energy independence technology forecasted in 45 categories. It also explains how self-powered, zero-pollution vehicles will increasingly use many forms of high power energy harvesting (HPEH).
For more see www.IDTechEx.com/eiv.