Solar Panels on your roof and where else?

This week we’ll take a brief look at the versatility of solar power and what people are doing with their photovoltaic panels. This first segment will take a look at public transportation and personal rapid transportation with respect to what’s being done in Australia!

In December 2007, Adelaide unveiled ‘Tindo’ (the worlds first solar powered bus) and it’s intentions for being a “Green City.” The name ‘Tindo’ comes from the Kaurna Aboriginal word for ‘sun’ and is a part of Adelaide’s ‘Integrated Movement Strategy’ launched in 2000.

The bus does have solar panels attached to the roof, however, the function of those panels is to run peripheral devices and not the wheel motors, so the power actually comes from the (BP Solar) solar panel recharging system at the Adelaide Central Bus Station. The power generated by the solar panels charges the 11 Nickle Metal-Hydride batteries thus making it the only pure electric bus recharged by 100% solar PV electricity.

‘Tindo’ is able to carry up-to 27 people, drive at a top speed of 76 km/h and its ‘fast charge system’ allows it to recharge the batteries at a rate of 1km of capacity per minute, which makes it a very competitive technology!

In the personal rapid transport field The University of New South Wales Solar Racing Team has taken a different approach and designed an ultra-light-weight car for one person to be driven solely by the power generated by solar panels that are placed on the car in an aerodynamic manner.

The car is powered by solar cells from SunPower’s Silicon A300, which are rated at approximately 20% efficiency. With respect to size, this means that it is able to generate 3-kW within 17 square meters. The car also has a very complex power management system, batteries and regenerative breaking which allowed it to come first in the Silicon class last year in the Global Green Challenge (also known as the World Solar Challenge).

In the next article we will look at other commercial applications for Solar Panels and how that technology has trickled down into the residential market.

Written by Prateek Chourdia

MEngSc – Photovoltaics and Solar Energy, UNSW

Solar Energy Analyst

Solar Choice

© 2010 Solar Choice Pty Ltd


Tindo the Solar Powered Bus

The UNSW Solar Racing Team


  1. I’m happy to see more and more people are starting to notice the importance of renewable energy and are taking steps to doing so. I hope one day people will start using solar panels for their home energy needs.

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