Swedish solar energy expert Midsummer, a leading provider of equipment for cost-effective manufacturing of flexible CIGS thin film solar cells, has received funding from Mistra for the development of lightweight solar modules on vehicles. The developed solar panels will be integrated in body panels in a Clean Motion Zbee ultra-light electric vehicle composite roof.
The Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research, Mistra, is funding Midsummer’s development of lightweight solar modules on vehicles. The project aims to research and evaluate the integration of thin-film solar panels for urban transports using ultra-light vehicles. The integrated solar panels will be a part in developing superefficient electrical vehicles for the future needs of urban transports.
Clean Motion has developed the ultra-light electric vehicle Zbee with the goal to create a vehicle using little resources, both at production and usage, without compromising safety or design. Solar panels would give the possibility to use solar energy to recharge the vehicle’s battery, which would increase the possible driving distance before need of conventional battery charge.
“The developed solar panels will be integrated in body panels in a Clean Motion Zbee’s composite roof. In this context, using solar panels is the only way towards making a vehicle energy autonomic”, said Sven Lindström, CEO, Midsummer. “Midsummer solar panels are flexible both by being bendable and possible to manufacture in different size and voltage configurations. Also, the CIGS cells on thin stainless steel substrates together with the plastic material layers give resistant lightweight modules”.
Solar energy increases mileage by ten per cent
Clean Motion and Midsummer have worked together to provide ZBee with solar cells that charge the battery. Standard 6″ solar cells in a solar panel shaped like a “W” allowed mounting onto the double-curved roof. The tests conducted in Sweden showed that solar energy increased the mileage with 5 km/day, which is 10 per cent increase. On the southern latitudes and with optimized PV area and electronics, mileage would increase further and some users would thus not even need conventional battery charging.
Development will continue to improve integration and performance, since the initial Zbee project demonstrates that solar cells have the potential to replace conventional battery charging as well as that Midsummer solar panels are well suitable to be customized for different applications.
Midsummer is a leading global provider of turnkey production lines for cost-effective manufacturing of flexible thin film CIGS (copper, indium, gallium and selenium) solar cells. Midsummer has developed a rapid process for the production of these solar cells using sputtering of all layers of the solar cell. This allows for scalable and cost-effective manufacturing of thin film solar cells. Midsummer’s customers are manufacturers of thin-film solar cells worldwide.
Midsummer is a leading supplier of equipment for cost-effective manufacturing of CIGS thin film flexible solar cells. Midsummer’s turnkey manufacturing lines have a small footprint, are perfectly scalable and allow for small-scale production of solar cells and modules.
Midsummer’s customers are thin film solar cell manufacturers all over the world. CIGS flexible solar modules are growing in popularity thanks to their low weight, flexibility and durability. Applications are e.g. floating modules, vehicles, landfills, portable power generation and membrane roofs on factories, offices and other structures that are not strong enough for traditional glass modules.
Founded in 2004 by people with a background from the optical disc manufacturing equipment and the photo mask industry, Midsummer has its head office in Stockholm, Sweden. Midsummer was the fastest growing green tech company in EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) in 2007-2011 (according to Deloitte).
About CIGS thin film solar cells
CIGS stands for copper-indium-gallium-selenium, a metal alloy that converts the energy of light directly into electricity by the photovoltaic effect (PV). The CIGS absorber is deposited on a stainless steel substrate, along with electrodes on the front to collect current. The cells are then connected in series and covered by a protective layer of plastic to form a flexible solar module.
Since a stainless steel substrate is used, the modules can be made without glass. The CIGS solar modules are therefore much lighter, flexible and can be made frameless, to suit applications where traditional silicon solar cells cannot be used, e.g. on structures that are uneven, moving or weak.
CIGS solar cells are manufactured by sputtering the material onto 156×156 mm stainless steel substrates. The solar cells from Midsummer are free of cadmium, a toxic material usually used in CIGS and other thin film solar cells. Flexible CIGS solar modules are gaining market share thanks to its high efficiency, low weight, flexibility and durability.