One of the world’s leading thin-film solar panel makers – Hanergy Holding Group – revealed four solar cars near its headquarters in Beijing, China, earlier this month. The automobiles are the first mass market thin-film solar vehicles and the company hopes they will revolutionize clean-energy transport.
The malleable nature of the thin cells makes them suitable for an array of versatile installation options including car bodies, backpacks and garments.
“Highly-efficient, flexible thin film solar technology enables us as humans to live without the traditional way of using fossil energy mostly by burning, instead, every person, even every item can generate power, and human society will enter an era characterized by distributed power generation,” said billionaire Li Hejun, Hanergy’s founder, chairman and CEO.
The solar cells used to power the vehicles boast the world’s most efficient solar-to-electricity conversion, displaying a 31.6 percent conversion factor.
The cars can generate energy from the sun as they drive, so users don’t have the same range limitations associated with other electric vehicles. Five to six hours of full-sun charging can generate eight to ten kilowatt hours of electricity, which could power the vehicle for up to 50 miles (80 kilometers). The vehicles can also be plugged in and can get roughly 220 miles (350 kilometers) of range with fully charged lithium batteries.
A built in cleaning mechanism keeps dirt from the cells and an automated weather and travel system can help drivers plan charging options through a cell phone app.
If the rest of the world’s e-fleets follow suit, this technology could transform electric transport by increasing reliability and ensuring low-carbon electricity sources. To protect this innovative creation, the company holds over 120 intellectual property right patents related to the solar vehicles.