Flexible solar panels for vehicle-integrated applications

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From pv magazine Global

Germany-based solar panel manufacturer OpesSolutions and the Fraunhofer Center for Silicon Photovoltaics CSP have developed a flexible, lightweight standard solar module for vehicle integration that is claimed to be particularly suitable for cargo bikes, as well as for electric buses, trucks and vans.

“For a light commercial vehicle charged with the current electricity mix, integrated solar panels can reduce annual CO2 emissions by up to 890kg and reduce operating costs by providing electricity for refrigeration systems,” the panel maker said in a statement. “In buses, with their large roof areas, integrated photovoltaics can provide up to 100% of the HVAC system’s energy needs – especially helpful when the engine is off.”

Called SolFlex, the frameless panel is based on 22%-efficient solar cells and is designed for high, one-sided heat load. The standard product measures 100x100x2.9mm, weighs in at 3.4kg, and has a power output of 170 W. Its open-circuit voltage is 24.23 V and its short-circuit current is 9.55 A. A customized panel may also reach a power output of up to 600 W and have a size of 3,000×1,200×2.9mm.

The module also has a bending radius of up to 15 degrees and a scratch-resistant surface.

Innovative interconnection, integrated bypass diodes and half-cell technology ensure optimum yields even with shading and low irradiation,” the manufacturer said. It said that the panel can be produced at lower costs compared to similar products as it relies on series production located in Changzhouin China’s southern Jiangsu province.

Electric cars incorporating PV panels on their bodywork or roof have the potential of reaching more than 10,000km per year of pure solar-powered driving and the modules could have a payback time of only three or four years, according to a recent study from the Netherlands.

The 10,000km range, however, is still difficult to reach for most electric cars that are currently on the market, due to their current vehicle energy efficiency. On the other hand, the benefits of vehicle-integrated PV are proportional to the solar radiation levels of a given area, its demand for electric vehicles, and its power prices.

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