Capsolar claims its solar modules require no special modification and work with any low-speed electric vehicle type. The Canadian-based startup began the development of solar modules for Low-Speed Electric Vehicles in 2020. This development is the first solar technology of its kind that is an add-on to LSEVs.
The panels are made from 24% efficient solar cells manufactured by Sunpower, with a 21.3% efficiency. The SM-550 for LSEVs has a weight of 30kg and a dimension of 2,100 mm x 1,320 mm x 25 mm. It operates at a maximum temperature of 55C while inactive and 45C in transit. The panel conforms to the vehicle’s upper body and becomes rigid. Taking the almost rounded shape, the modules have optimal shading management, receiving solar rays from different angles. It is flexible, with an IP67 enclosure and MPPT buck controller.
Speaking to journalists, Capsolar’s CEO, Samy Benhamza, said, ‘The Capsolar’s SM–550 solar module is capable of maximizing the capture of solar energy in a dynamic setting. It reduces the impact of shading on its performance while being as robust and lightweight as possible when fitted on our structure which can fit any type of low-speed electric vehicle.’
The panel is expected to supply energy higher by 70% at the same ratings compared to competitor products. The company performed a test on a client’s vehicle in Montreal, claiming a 17% average range extension per day and a peak of 26% on sunnier days. Research carried out by Bonna Newman at TNO in 2021 shows that integrating solar panels with electric cars can give them a reach of 10,000km running solely on solar power.
Also, it will reduce CO2 emissions in countries with more fossil fuel and electric-powered vehicles. Capsolar is working on private car-integrated solar modules and is at the data collection stage. It will then use this data to optimize the new technology’s algorithm.
‘In collaboration with our European strategic partners in Belgium, we have developed a patent-pending, fully modular system that allows us to adapt our panels, just like LEGO, for each type of low-speed electric vehicle with no extra modification and custom work,’ Benhamza explained.
The founders of Capsolar, Samy Benhamza and Hanssan Permalloo, decided to build a solar-powered module optimized for road vehicle use. They started with the LSEVs and hope to go into larger vehicles in the future. These LSEVs ranges from neighborhood electric vehicles used for micro-transit to golf carts. The problem with LSEVs is in their short battery lifetime and regular maintenance. Capsolar will boost efficiency by using clean solar energy to power the batteries. It will extend the range of LSEVs by about 25% using solar energy, giving the batteries 1 to 3 years. In turn, there will be minimal cost on maintenance during each vehicle’s lifetime.
It will improve sustainability as most LSEVs are powered by electricity from non-renewable sources. They expect a reduction of over 290 kg of carbon emissions per vehicle annually. Also, the module will be 96% recyclable with about 80% of reusable solar cells.
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