Our work

Solar Powered Transportation

ECN part of TNO is working to make solar-powered cars a reality. The transportation network is being revolutionized by electric vehicles. These vehicles need a sustainable energy source of electricity. Solar cells and modules are a solution, not just for plug-in charging but on the vehicle body itself.

More than 50 million electric vehicles are expected to be on the road by 2025. To contribute to the energy transition, they will need sustainable electricity sources. Integrating solar cells and modules into the car body itself can potentially offer:

  • up to 20,000 km/year pure solar-powered driving;
  • increase electric vehicle range;
  • increase vehicle autonomy;
  • make vehicles a smart and integral part of the power grid and distribution network.

Significant innovation and research

For PV to make a substantial contribution to the drive train of the car requires significant innovations in how PV components are built. They will be moving through dynamic environments and need to peform well under direct sunlight and also partial shade. They need to be lightweight and flexible to follow the aerodynamic lines of the car. This requires research in materials and integration processes. They need to be durable to not only perform electrically but also withstand the mechanical stresses, scratches, bumps, and dings that any car encounters. And of course, they need to be beautiful and sexy.

Challenges

At ECN part of TNO, we are solving the challenges of integrating PV into the car body. We work with materials suppliers, vehicle parts suppliers, vehicle OEM companies, Dutch solar-racing teams, and European and international experts to explore the possibilities of solar powered vehicles. We think about the vehicle as not only private autonomous transportation mode, but also as a smart and green mobile power station.

Partners

ECN part of TNO, together with University of Twente, TKI Urban Energy, and RVO, are leading Activity 1.2 of the IEA PVPS Task 17. This activity is focused on identifying the requirements, barriers, and solutions for vehicle integrated PV (VIPV) on a global scale with the aim to make solar-powered cars a reality all over the world.

Dr Bonna Newman

Contact

Dr Bonna Newman

  • PV Modules
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