In order to mitigate CO₂ emissions in the transport sector, electric and electrified vehicles are an effective and attractive option. Although the PV market in the transport sector is still quite limited, the potential is steadily increasing. A challenge is how to accelerate the integration of PV into the transport sector to facilitate improved energy and environmental conditions. To date, only a few companies in the transport sector are involved in this endeavor.
Photovoltaic (PV) technology is mostly used in grid-connected applications, and there is currently a rapid increase of PV in remote areas where micro-grids are used. A new application could be the integration of PV into battery electric vehicles. PV would allow recharging the vehicle battery, without being connected to a charging station and might also act as a range extender.
Some attractive showcases have already been realized but more research is needed to understand how VIPV can make transport more sustainable. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) is currently supporting and funding two collaborative projects:
– The project STREET investigates the cost-benefit ratio of VIPV on electric utility cars. Especially for delivery cars, which make up an increasing proportion of city traffic, solar power can provide a significant amount of energy due to the relatively large area available on top of the cars. In this way CO₂ emissions and urban air pollution can be reduced. First vehicle integrated PV systems will be tested by the company Street Scooter.
– The aim of the PATOS project is the development of high efficiency (over 22%), low-cost solar cells for vehicle integration, where visual appearance is as important as a high power output. From the automotive sector, Audi AG is participating in the consortium (https://a2-solar.com/en/a2-solar-participates-in-joint-patos-project/).
The technology has the potential to make battery electric vehicles more environmentally friendly and more attractive to customers.
Barriers include developing very high efficiency integrated PV modules which fit the needs of the transport industry. Further aspects include cost-effective mass production of the VIPV and standardization of subsystems. Further research is needed to assess the interaction with the design of the power train of electric cars. In this field, training of the staff at the manufacturing site as well as for maintenance is a crucial aspect.
BMWi joint project STREET:
BMWi joint project PATOS: