Vehicle-Integrated Photovoltaics


Vehicle-integrated Photovoltaics (VIPV) designates the mechanical, electrical and design-technical integration of photovoltaic modules into vehicles. The PV modules blend seamlessly into the vehicle exterior and are connected to electric loads or the drive battery in electric vehicles. Simultaneously, the PV modules replace other components of the vehicle, e.g. the roof or the bonnet. VIPV increases the mileage of electrically powered vehicles and improves their CO2 balance. The aesthetic expectations on integration into the vehicle design are especially high for cars. For utility vehicles (e.g. trucks and buses), particularly lightweight PV modules are needed to avoid restricting the load capacity. Further application areas include caravans and mobile homes, delivery bicycles, trams, trains, ships, aircraft and drones.

Quick-Facts: Vehicle-Integrated Photovoltaics (VIPV)

  • Technical potential in Germany of at least 55 GWp
  • Advantages:
    • increased mileage
    • reduced load on the electricity grid and charging infrastructure due to electricity generation near the consumers
    • cost savings for charging electricity
    • for combustion engines: reduction of CO2 emissions in the transport sector
  • Challenges:
    • application of new materials and production processes compared to conventional module constructions
    • different types of modules for the specific application areas, requiring individualized production
    • highest efficiency values relative to surface area are required

Application options

An application example is given by electric cars which are additionally equipped with PV modules. The applied PV modules usually meet additional aesthetic requirements, e.g. special designs and curvature are possible. The additional electricity generated on the vehicle can increase the mileage by several kilometres per day. In refrigerated vans, the PV electricity can be used for electric Peltier cooling of the load. In this way, the same cooling power can be generated with less usage of the refrigeration unit and the diesel consumption can be reduced. The integration of PV modules onto the refrigerated compartment requires particularly lightweight modules which do not compromise the thermal insulation.

invisibly integrated solar cells in the car roof
© Fraunhofer ISE
The invisibly integrated solar cells in the car roof feature high-performance power generation.
PV car roof from a2-solar on the Fisker Karma
© a2-solar
PV car roof from a2-solar on the Fisker Karma: The roof of the plug-in hybrid from the American Fisker Automotive company has an aesthetically attractive design.
Refrigerated van from the TBV company
© TBV Kühlfahrzeuge GmbH
Refrigerated van from the TBV company: Here, a cooling compartment was produced which uses integrated PV module to support the refrigeration of the compartment.

Selected Research Projects



The project "Lade-PV" is intended to demonstrate the marketability of PV applications in freight transport.



Solar Potentials of German Traffic Routes