Would carrying a [folding] device that stacks solar panels in a 3 meter by 2 meter 2 wheel trailer be [worthwhile] efficient?
It's a great question, but I think that stopping driving and then fast charging is the wrong methodology and makes the solution impractical as shown in the other answer.
However, carrying solar panels that can provide power WHILE driving is IMO a worthwhile option for some scenarios.
I'll cheat and use the solar panel from the other answer, and the trailer with 6m^2 exposed surface from the Ops question.
- In terms of driving range a tesla achieves about 3 miles per kWh for a total range of about 200 miles.
- With just 6m^2 of trailer you could get 3 * 400W solar panels on the surface that could provide energy while driving. This would deliver 1.2kW of energy on a continuous basis to charge the battery or propel the vehicle, with a weight of about 140lbs (a small passenger equivalent).
If you calculate your average speed and distance covered around your area of operation you can begin to see the possibilities of charging while driving.
Let's use an example of freeway driving at a relatively constant speed for 1 hour between cities 60 miles apart:
- The tesla would consume about 20kWh of energy.
- The solar array would produce about 1.2kWh of energy.
Under these conditions the solar panels offset about 6% of the energy consumed which is a worthwhile gain.
When you then consider a more varied environment such as driving around a suburban area with speeds much lower, stops and go traffic etc, the gains from the solar assist multiply.
Assume a trip schedule of say 20 miles over 1.5 hours (a decent commute):
- The tesla would consume about 6.7kWH of energy.
- The solar array would produce about 1.8kWH of energy in this time.
Now the solar array is offsetting about 28% of the energy required (while driving). Or another way of thinking about it is that you increased the range of the Tesla by close to 30%.
If this solar array is collecting energy for 14 hours per day then it can augment the battery or driving by 16.8kWH during that time. In the example I gave above (2 * 6.7kWh) it is clear that the solar array would easily handle the power requirements of a 3h commute cycle and still provide more energy than that required.
Whether it is worthwhile to provide charging in this manner is a somewhat open question. The Tesla battery (depending on model) is about 300Wh/kg, so a 60kWh pack likely weighs in around 200kg (440lbs).
The weight of a light trailer plus panels plus DC-DC converters is likely in the 170kg (350lb) range. During daylight times this is about 100Wh/kg so about one third the power density of the battery.
While for particular operational scenarios towing the solar cells might mean never using a grid charger, it seems unlikely we will see this as a viable solution for most. However if the solar cells were the vehicle skin, it might just be a worthwhile option.