Swedish solar energy experts Midsummer have received funding from Mistra for the development of lightweight solar modules on vehicles
The solar panels will be integrated into body panels in a Clean Motion Zbee ultra-light electric vehicle (EV) composite roof. The project aims to research and evaluate the use of thin film solar panels for urban transportation using ultra-light vehicles and the panels will play a part in the development of superefficient EVs for future urban transport systems. It is being funded by the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research, Mistra.
Clean Motion has developed the Zbee with the aim of manufacturing a vehicle using a minimum of resources, both at production and in usage, without compromising safety or design. Solar panels would enable the vehicle to use solar energy to recharge its battery, which would then increase the possible driving distance (range) before having to depend on a conventional battery charge. The use of solar energy has been found to increase vehicle mileage by ten percent.
“The developed solar panels will be integrated in body panels in a Clean Motion Zbee’s composite roof” said Sven Lindström, CEO, Midsummer. “In this context, using solar panels is the only way towards making a vehicle energy autonomic. Midsummer solar panels are flexible both by being bendable and possible to manufacture in different size and voltage configurations. Also, the CIGS cells on thin stainless steel substrates together with the plastic material layers give resistant lightweight modules”.
Clean Motion and Midsummer have worked together to provide ZBee with solar cells for the battery. Standard 6” solar cells in a solar panel shaped like a ‘W’ enabled it to be fitted onto a double-curved roof. The tests, conducted in Sweden, demonstrated that solar energy increased mileage by 5 kilometres per day, representing a 10 percent increase. In southern latitudes and with optimised PV area and electronics, mileage can be increased even further, meaning that some EV drivers would not even need conventional battery charging.
The project team intend to continue the research in order to improve the panels integration and performance, given that the initial project has shown the cells potential to replace conventional battery charging as well as the suitability of Midsummer solar panels for customisation to suit different applications.
Midsummer specialises in the provision of equipment for cost-effective manufacturing of flexible CIGS (copper, indium, gallium and selenium) thin film solar cells. The company has developed a rapid process for production of CIGS cells using sputtering of all layers of the cell. This allows for scalable and cost-effective manufacturing.