Lightyear, the start-up company that emerged from the solar team at the Technical University of Eindhoven, which last year presented its long-distance solar car Lightyear One, wants to push the development of solar roofs for electric vehicles with the Dutch company DSM. The cooperation is to extend far beyond the Lightyear One.
The agreement now signed provides for both partners to push the commercialization of solar roofs for electric vehicles. The partnership aims in particular to integrate solar roofs into a wide range of electrically powered vehicles such as cars, vans and buses. The companies will first evaluate the market for this and launch pilot projects with customers from the automotive and public transport sectors, according to a communication.
The basis for this is to be the solar roof developed by Lightyear, which was first presented in 2019 in the Model One. It integrates solar cells with a surface area of five square meters into the roof and the front hood of the car and is intended to be so stable that an âadult man can walk on them without causing dentsâ.
DSM supplies a conductive backsheet for the solar roofs, which according to Lightyear is an âintegral partâ of the solar roof. This allows the solar cell connections to be placed on the back, âso that every available centimeter on the front of the module is available for capturing sunlightâ. This also helps to minimize electrical losses.
The Lightyear One is expected to reach a WLTP range of 725 kilometers when it is launched in 2021 â of course, the vehicle is not yet homologated at this time. According to the developers, the solar roof should provide enough energy to cover an average of 70-90 percent of the annual mileage. However, Lightyear is assuming short car journeys, which average about 40 kilometers per day. On sunny days, the solar cells in the Lightyear One are expected to generate electricity for up to 33 kilometers â so under optimal conditions, the calculation works out. On cloudy days, in winter or simply when the car is parked in a garage, the solar power share will decrease considerably.
Electric buses or electric trucks with their larger batteries can use considerably more solar cells. However, their daily mileage is usually much higher. Research is also being conducted in Germany on solar modules in electric commercial vehicles. In the âLade PVâ charging project, four industrial companies and two Fraunhofer Institutes want to demonstrate the marketability of photovoltaic applications in freight transport. âWe not only want to develop the technology, but also show that trucks can cover over five percent of their propulsion energy with solar energy,â says project leader Christoph Kutter. â4,000 to 6,000 kilometres additional range per year is mathematically possible.â
âBy stepping up our collaboration with Lightyear we are creating an entirely new market for âlosslessâ high power back-contact technology â with the potential to change the face of clean mobility and make a big impact on climate change,â says Pascal de Sain, Vice President of DSM Advanced Solar. Martijn Lammers, Lightyearâs strategy chief and co-founder, adds: âBy 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.â
Koninklijke DSM is a chemical company based in Heerlen. Originally founded as a mining company (DSM stands for Dutch State Mines), the company produces industrial chemicals, pharmaceuticals and food supplements, among other things, and has also been working in the field of sustainable livingÂ for several years.
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