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Solar Powered Transportation: benefits of vehicle integrated PV

The transportation network is being revolutionised by electric vehicles. TNO is working on making solar-powered transportation a reality. 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 info about solar powered transportation?

Contact Bonna Newman

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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 (VIPV) can potentially offer: 

  • up to 20,000 km/year pure solar-powered driving
  • up to 23%-40% fewer plug-ins at grid charging points
  • the possibility of no grid charges in the summer
  • as much as €150 - €200 direct electricity savings each year
  • reduce the CO2 emissions by 250 kg/year
  • make vehicles a smart and integral part of the power grid and distribution network

These numbers are based on the case study Amsterdam; more southern countries will see even more attractive numbers. 

SIGNIFICANT INNOVATION AND RESEARCH

TNO is leading the way in accurately quantifying the potential benefits of on-board PV for solar powered transportation. TNO has coupled its proprietary BIGEYE solar yield modelling software, electric vehicle energy demand models, and a database of real driver usage profiles to create a VIPV Energy Flow Model (VEFM) to be used to better understand the benefits of on-board PV for the electric transport revolution.

Solar panels on a truck

Additionally, we also use this model to optimize performance, system design, CO2 emissions reductions, and improve use logistics such that on-board PV will have the largest impact. This work is being conducted for passenger cars, trucks, buses, and other electric vehicles and additionally is helping to inform the public and policy makers about how VIPV can contribute to a cleaner and more sustainable future.

CHALLENGES

At TNO, we are solving the challenges of integrating PV into the car body, as well as making sure the technology is as effective as possible. To do this, the expected power generated by the PV must be computed at every moment depending on the local illumination conditions (sun, clouds, buildings, and shade) as well as the position, speed, and power demand of the vehicle.

This requires combing multi-disciplinary expertise from across TNO in solar, electric power trains, and transportation logistics as well as working with our partners to create realistic user profiles, collect real-time vehicle centered weather conditions, and analyze the power that can be generated by a curved and moving PV system. With the VEFM, we can say how much on-board PV can change the way we drive and use our cars.

We are also using this tool to look to the future to better understand how solar powered transportation will be compatible and accelerate new technologies and transportation paradigms like car sharing and autonomous vehicles.

PARTNERS

We work with IM Efficiency,  TU/e, University of Twente, Sono Motors, Lightyear, and TRENS Solar Trains to explore the possibilities of solar powered transportation. We think about the vehicle as not only a private autonomous transportation mode, but also as a relevant building block in a smart energy systems.

TNO, TKI Urban Energy, and RVO, are leading Activity 1.2 of the IEA PVPS Task 17 focuses on identifying the requirements, barriers, and solutions for vehicle integrated PV on a global scale. Task 17 is an international collaboration with Japan, Germany, France, Australia, Austria, Spain, China, Morocco, and Switzerland focused on making solar-powered vehicles a reality all over the world.

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Dr Bonna Newman

  • PV Modules

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