With the funding from Mistra, Midsummer, a Swedish solar energy expert, started the development of lightweight solar modules for vehicles. The developed solar panels will be integrated in body panels in a Clean Motion Zbee ultra-light electric vehicle (EV) composite roof. The project aims to research and evaluate the integration of thin-film solar panels for urban transports using ultra-light vehicles. The integrated solar panels will be a part in developing superefficient EVs for the future needs for urban transports.
Clean Motion has developed the ultra-light EV Zbee with the goal to create a vehicle using little resources, both at production and usage, without compromising safety or design. Solar panels would give the possibility to use solar energy to recharge the vehicle's battery, which would increase the possible driving distance before need of conventional battery charge.
Clean Motion and Midsummer have worked together to provide ZBee with solar cells that charge the battery. Standard 6" solar cells in a solar panel shaped like a "W" allowed mounting onto the double-curved roof.
The tests conducted in Sweden showed that solar energy increased the mileage with 5 km/day, which is 10 per cent increase. On the southern latitudes and with optimized PV area and electronics, mileage would increase further and some users would thus not even need conventional battery charging.
Development will continue to improve integration and performance, since the initial Zbee project demonstrates that solar cells have the potential to replace conventional battery charging as well as that Midsummer solar panels are well suitable to be customized for different applications.
"The developed solar panels will be integrated in body panels in a Clean Motion Zbee's composite roof. In this context, using solar panels is the only way towards making a vehicle energy autonomic", said Sven Lindstrom, CEO, Midsummer. "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".