Planes, Trains, and Automobiles — Now, with Solar!


Solar advances lead to the technology appearing on various modes of transportation, in addition to airports and train stations. How long will it be till you fly in a solar plane or drive a solar car?

Where are Neal and Del when you need them? It’s time for Hollywood to remake this classic film, with a solar flair. You have to wonder, could they have gotten home faster if their trip was powered by the sun? Let’s find out.

We’ve been reporting on many of the airports that are going solar, but did you realize that some planes are going solar too? Not a fan of air travel? Then how about solar trains? Or cars? You’ve heard of solar charging stations, but have you heard of cars that are powered by solar energy? Read on for a look at the latest advances in solar transportation technology.


  • It’s so easy, even a high schooler can do it. Over at Instructibles, Texas students show how to build a solar powered plane.
  • It’s so useful, even the drones can use it. Titan Aerospace is working on a solar-powered drone that would be able to fly for five years without ever having to stop to power up. The plane is planning to incorporate 3000 solar panels, producing 7kW of electricity. The first plane is scheduled to be completed within the year.
  • It’s so cool, even Facebook is doing it. Mark Zuckerberg recently announced that Facebook is working with Ascenta to use solar planes to provide worldwide Internet access through Facebook’s Connectivity Lab.
  • It’s so fast, Solar Impulse became the first solar-powered plane to travel cross-country. It plans to fly around the world next year. Watch for the big reveal on April 9.



  • We’ll always have Paris to thank for getting solar moving in the train industry. Paris and Amsterdam, that is. The first stretch of rail to be powered by solar is situated on this train line, near the city of Antwerp, Belguim.
  • Belgium has expanded this to power 4000 Belgian trains per year.
  • London’s Blackfriar Station operates on 50% solar power. Fun fact, the station’s 4400 pv panels provide enough energy to make nearly 80,000 cups of tea per day!
  • In the US, railroads like P&W in Massachussetts are using solar to power their stations. 



From solar chargers to ful-fledged solar-powered vehicles, the advances just keep on coming with EVs. Here are some highlights.



Here’s one that wasn’t in the movie but deserves a spotlight. Sailors are also getting into the action. MS Turanor PlanetSolar has traveled around the world on nothing but solar power. 


So, what do you think? Can Neal and Del get home using nothing but the power of the sun? I guess we’ll have to wait for the movie premier to learn the answer.