At the Frankfurt Motor Show, the thunder was stolen not by an automobile company but by a research institute. The Fraunhofer Institute of Germany has revealed a solar roof for cars at Frankfurt which generates approximately 300 W of power. The cells slightly overlap and are glued together with an electrically conductive adhesive. The roof is aesthetically designed by using solar cells laminated in polymer film between spherically curved glass panels. The roof has been tinted with a colour that hides the solar cells without affecting their efficiency by more than 2%. This roof can increase the range of an electric car by around 10 KM on a sunny day.
This offering is in addition to several other similar offerings from companies like Toyota, Hyundai and Netherland based “Light Year“. With the advent of electric vehicles, several companies are working on means to increase the range of EVs by using solar cells mounted on the bodywork to generate more energy. As per an announcement by Fraunhofer Institute about the range extension, “This corresponds to an annual extension of an average mileage by approximately 10%, or an equivalent reduction in fuel consumption,” they further gave details of the assumptions stating, “The calculation is based on the unshaded solar radiation in Freiburg im Breisgau, the consumption of an electric car of 17 kWh per 100km and an annual mileage of 15,000km.”
Fraunhofer Institute has been exploring solar panel applications for mobility since 2016. Earlier the institute had tested six trucks in Europe and USA. These trucks had been installed with irradiation and temperature sensors to map parameters over an extended period. It was determined that a typical truck operated in Europe with such a roof could generate between 5 to 7 MWh of energy on a year.