SolarMoves – Europe Explores Potential of Solar Powered Vehicles

Duration: 01/2024 - 12/2026
Contracting Authority/ Sponsors: DG Move, EU-Kommission
Project Partners: TNO, Lightyear, Sono Motors, IMEfficiency
Project Focus:      
Vehicle mounted mobile solar irradiance sensor.
© IMEfficiency
Vehicle mounted mobile solar irradiance sensor.
Auf einem Van montierter mobiler Sonneneinstrahlungssensor.
© IMEfficiency
Van mounted mobile solar irradiance sensor.
Auf einem Truck montierter mobiler Sonneneinstrahlungssensor.
© IMEfficiency
Mobile solar radiation sensor mounted on a truck.

An international public-private consortium will address how solar-powered vehicles can support the transition to an all-electric transport system in the EU. The group named SolarMoves includes TNO (The Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research), Fraunhofer ISE, and the on-board solar technology system suppliers Lightyear, Sono Motors, and IM Efficiency.

This pilot project comes at the behest of the European Commission's Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport (DG MOVE) to explore the potential of solar-powered vehicles and its impact on the electrical recharging infrastructure policy and regulations in Europe in the coming years.

In the coming decade, the EU and Member States have ambitious targets to transition to a zero-emissions transport system. This requires significant investments in car recharging infrastructure. Solar technology for mobility applications can potentially ease this investment and help to overcome some of the challenges users of electric vehicles experience. For instance by diminishing the dependence from recharging. Earlier research shows estimates that it is possible to charge about 25% fewer annually when driving electric vehicles with solar panels installed. In sunny places it can be reduced to as much as 40%.

Growing market

Electric vehicles with solar panels may represent 10% of the entire market in 2030. Several cars with solar cells are in development. Furthermore, already more than 30 truck trailers are driving through Europe, with solar cells on its trailer roof, making commercial transport more sustainable by using solar energy. Next to that, inner-city public transport fleets are already equipped with solar cells to reduce emissions and fuel costs.

Monitoring efficiency to predict required infrastructure

A three-years pilot project will be conducted in which modelling will be combined with and verified by on-the-road monitoring and testing. Various vehicles (cars, trucks, buses, and vans) will be equipped with sensors to measure and determine solar irradiation in real-world conditions across Europe. The measurements will help to validate satellite derived solar irradiance mapping to solar driving profiles. Several vehicles equipped with integrated solar panels will be used for energy flow measurements also to determine electrical grid interactions.

The results of this monitoring will give insight into the increase in efficiency of electric vehicles when solar technology is integrated and will be used to ascertain the overall potential of this technology and make predictions on the required recharging infrastructure for the potential scenario in which a significant part of the electrical vehicles are equipped with solar modules in the next years. The findings will finally be translated into a set of policy recommendations for the European Commission.

News, May 21, 2024: Solar Potential on Electric Vehicles within Europe

Sustainable Development Goals

The "SolarMoves" research project contributes to achieving the sustainability goals in these areas:

More Information on this Research Topic

Research Topic

Integrated Photovoltaics

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Solar Energy Meteorology

Research Topic

Solar Power Plants and Integrated Photovoltaics