Tata Power, MIT Build Solar Cars To 'Go Green'

by CXOtoday News Desk    Apr 23, 2015


At a time when high fuel prices are pushing consumers to look for new options in the car market, Tata Power Solar joined hand with Manipal Institute of Technology (MIT) in Karnataka to build a solar-powered car called SERve or the Solar Electric Road Vehicle, encouraging people to go green. It is also an example of an industry-academia collaboration to help increase the role of solar innovation in green mobility.

At present there are very few solar cars in the market. Earlier, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd launched a car, called e2o that  runs on lithium ion batteries that allow it to travel 100 kilometers in one charge. The vehicle, the only four-seater electric car in India, can also be solar charged, the company said in a statement.

Tata Power and MIT plan to make the two-seater car that weighs 590 kg and can reach a speed of 60kmph, commercially viable. ”The car needs very light weight and high efficient modules in a very aerodynamic structure and that services we have provided to them,” said Ashish Khanna, The Executive Director and CEO of Tata Solar Power.

“Our support has been to motivate them, give them the module side, the energy side complete solution to them and work with them because their requirements were also changing as and when they were innovating,” he added.

For this initiative, Tata Power Solar provided the solar panels to MIT. The solar panel is curved to fit the car’s surface and its aerodynamic design, and at 35kg, weighs much less than conventional panels. The car also houses a Direct Solar Drive, powered by solar panels, to maintain the cruising speed and is supplemented by extra power from its high-end energy storage system.

Speaking on the project, Dr P Giridhar Kini, Associate Director, Manipal University told CXOtoday, “We are extremely happy to see how our students have combined their passion for green energy, through the launch of SERVe. Industry-academia collaboration is the key to foster innovation among the student community. Hence, working with corporates like Tata Power Solar helped our students get technical support and knowledge transfer. The team looks forward to working with more companies for future projects and to continue to nurture student-level innovation.”

The amount of energy from the sun is very high in India, even though its amount of consumption is hardly utilized in the country. It is estimated by industry experts that millions of homes, offices and cars around the world are going to switch to solar energy in the next few years.