Revolutionary solar-powered electric vehicle technology being developed for mass adoption

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The dream of self-charging, fully-electric vehicles that will never run out of range and top-up by themselves is closer than ever after an announcement that solar-powered charging technology is being scaled for mass commercialization for the EV market.

The concept of harnessing energy from the sun by integrating solar panels on the roofs of electric cars has not yet taken off, however, high-tech mobility company Lightyear, which is developing ‘the world’s most efficient long-range solar car’, has signed an agreement with science-based company Royal DSM to jointly scale the technology and accelerate its global adoption.

Specifically, the partnership aims to integrate solar-powered roofs in a variety of electric vehicles, including cars, vans and buses – thus enabling users to charge their vehicle directly with clean energy. The companies are teaming up to assess the market, starting with pilot projects for customers from the automotive and public transport sector, where the integration of a solar roof could represent a smart investment.

This technology was initially developed by Lightyear for the solar panels of Lightyear One, a long-range solar car with a WLTP range of 725km. When it launches in 2021 it will feature five square meters of integrated solar cells protected by double-curved and super-strong safety glass, the solar roof captures sunlight continually whether the car is moving or stationary. The result is that in optimized vehicles like Lightyear One, the solar roof can deliver enough energy to cover an average of 70-90% of the yearly mileage.

DSM’s Conductive backsheet is an integral element of the solar roof – enabling all the connections of the solar cells to be put on the back of the solar panel – thus making every available centimeter on the front of the module available for capturing sunlight. The reduction in electrical (cell-to-module) losses not only delivers a 3% increase in power output; it has the added advantage of contributing to a more stylish sunroof with aesthetic appeal.

Pascal de Sain, vice president of DSM Advanced Solar: “By stepping up our collaboration with Lightyear we are creating an entirely new market for ‘lossless’ high power back-contact technology – with the potential to change the face of clean mobility and make a big impact on climate change. We look forward to bringing more than a decade of market and scientific leadership in solar to this collaboration. Our goal is simple; to make clean, solar energy a reality for all.”

Martijn Lammers, Lightyear’s chief of strategy and co-founder commented: “We want to revolutionize the way that people travel. By scaling up the accessibility of our solar technology through our partnership with DSM, we can accelerate the mass adoption of electric vehicles by making them sun-powered.”

Ultimately, this partnership will enable a new generation of smart solar-efficient solutions from two sustainability leaders that share a common goal: Ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable modern energy for all (United Nations Sustainable Development Goal no 7).

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