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DSM and Lightyear to scale the commercialization of integrated solar roofs for EVs

High-tech mobility innovator Lightyear and Royal DSM will jointly scale the commercialization of Lightyear’s unique solar-powered roof for the electric vehicle market. With this solution, both companies aim to accelerate the global adoption of a broad range of Electric Vehicles (EVs).

Specifically, the partnership aims to integrate solar-powered roofs in a variety of electric vehicles, including cars, vans and buses, thus enabling users to charge their vehicle directly with clean energy. The companies are teaming up to assess the market, starting with pilot projects for customers from the automotive and public transport sector, where the integration of a solar roof could represent a smart investment.


The global EV market was valued at $160-plus billion in 2019; and is projected to reach $800-plus billion by 2027 according to international market assessments from Bloomberg, IDTechEx and TIME. To accelerate this growth, the EV industry now needs to overcome the twin hurdles of limited range and grid-dependency.

The alliance between Lightyear and DSM addresses this need by enabling various EVs to increase their range through energy harvested directly from the sun. The integration of a solar roof is expected to be a good investment in multiple EV market segments.

This technology was initially developed by Lightyear for the solar panels of Lightyear One. Lightyear One is set to be the world’s most efficient long-range solar car when it launches in 2021, with a WLTP range of 725 km (450 miles). Featuring five square meters of integrated solar cells protected by double-curved and super-strong safety glass, the solar roof captures sunlight continually whether the car is moving or stationary. The result is that in optimized vehicles like Lightyear One, the solar roof can deliver enough energy to cover an average of 70-90% of the yearly mileage.

DSM’s conductive backsheet is an integral element of the solar roof—enabling all the connections of the solar cells to be put on the back of the solar panel—thus making every available centimeter on the front of the module available for capturing sunlight. The reduction in electrical (cell-to-module) losses not only delivers a 3% increase in power output; it has the added advantage of contributing to a more stylish sunroof with aesthetic appeal.



That car would have 5 square meters of panels, or about 750 watts of panel power. Here in Florida with 4.7 hours of annualized sunlight per day those panels could provide as much as 3kwh of battery power (to the wheels) . Or about 8-9 miles of range. While that would be a wonderful benefit to parking in the sun, and I believe it's worthwhile to have optimized panels on EV's, it's not enough power to meet 70% of annual driving needs. It's claimed the average American drives over 13,400 miles per year.

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It's claimed the average American drives over 13,400 miles per year.
Let's redo the calculations. Based on somewhat real data.
Lightyear One will use SunPower® Maxeon® solar cells. A SunPower 400 watt panel measures 61.3 inches by 41.2 inches or 17.54 square feet. Lightyear One has 5 m2 (54 sq ft) of solar panels. So 54/17.54 = 3 SunPower panels or 1200 watts.
According to the Tampa Electric "Solar Calculator" Estimated monthly generation per kW of PV installed: 131.40 kW. That would be 157.68 kWh/month for Tampa, Florida generated by Lightyear One. According to the WLTP, Lightyear One requires 13.4 kWh/100 miles.
Annual Lightyear One generation in Florida = 12 x 157.68 kWh or 1892.16 kWh, so 14,120 miles @ 13.4 kWh/100 miles. Actual mileage of course would vary.


Put solar on the roofs of big rig trailers.

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Some more data found on the Lightyear One website (, "Manufactured by SunPower, a world leader in solar efficiency, the Maxeon solar cells integrated into the roof and bonnet of Lightyear One provide enough power to add 12km of range every hour to the car."
So using this measure, in Florida with 4.7 hours of annualized sunlight per day x 365 days/year x 12 km = 20,586 km or 12,791.5 miles (>95% the average American drives over 13,400 miles per year.)
This would work on big rig trailers, campers, or the UPS Range Extended Electric Truck.

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