German consortium develops delivery vehicle with integrated solar modules

The German consortium of the »Street« research project has developed a light commercial vehicle with integrated photovoltaics (VIPV). The energy converted from sunlight can reportedly be fed into the high-voltage vehicle electrical system and thus used directly to extend the vehicle's range.
Battery electric vehicles always have two power storage units on board: a small 12-volt battery for electrical consumers such as lights and power steering, and a large traction battery that operates at a higher voltage of 400 volts and supplies the electric drive. In order for the energy generated by VIPV to be fed into the large traction battery, thus helping to extend the range, it is necessary to couple the photovoltaic modules to the high-voltage vehicle electrical system. According to the scientists, this is technically »very demanding, as it requires a conversion from 12 volts to 400 volts and is linked to many safety aspects.«
The prototype is based on the »Work L« model from the German Street Scooter company. A total area of 15 square meters is available for the ten solar modules. Unlike integration in passenger cars, the modules did not have to be curved or colored. Their total output is 2,180 watts. At around 19 kilowatt hours per 100 kilometers, the energy required for driving is similarly low to that of passenger cars.
The demonstration vehicle has been approved for road use and has completed initial tests. It is equipped with numerous sensors so that the energy flows can be tracked precisely. By the end of the project, all components will have been put through their paces in test drives at different times of day and year and under different weather conditions.
»We expect an annual range extension of around 5,200 kilometers for journeys in Lower Saxony,« says project coordinator Robby Peibst. In more southern regions, the range could be even higher. This would save more than one in four grid-based charging stops.
Under the coordination of the Institute for Solar Energy Research Hameln (ISFH), the companies Continental Engineering Services, Vitesco Technologies, a2-solar and Meyer Burger are involved in the project, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. The scientists of Jülich Research Center, the Helmholtz Center Berlin and the MBE Institute of Leibniz Universität Hannover are also part of the project.

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