The German research project ‘Street’ has equipped an electric van with photovoltaic modules. Based on the Streetscooter WORK L by DPDHL, the demonstrator is expected to gain over 5,000 km of range in a year of operation using the extra solar power.
The Streetscooter WORK L is among the largest e-vans in DPDHL’s line-up and offers 15 square meters to attach ten PV modules. Unlike integration on passenger cars, the Street project partners did not have to curve or colour the modules. The main challenge lay instead in coupling the solar panels to the high-voltage vehicle electrical system to recharge the battery directly. This requires a conversion from 12 V to 400 V and is linked to many safety aspects, the initiators suggest. “It is precisely this challenge that the Street consortium has now successfully addressed,” they added.
The consortium comprises the coordinating Institute for Solar Energy Research Hamelin (ISFH), the companies Vitesco Technologies, a2-solar and Meyer Burger, and the research institutions Forschungszentrum Jülich, the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin and the MBE Institute of Leibniz University Hanover. They also worked closely with Continental Engineering Services.
Vitesco Technologies developed the DC/DC converter from 12 V to 400 V, while Continental handled all components’ integration and their integration into the vehicle electrical system.
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Said integration is the Street project’s key achievement as it allows to feed the solar energy directly into the EV system to extend the vehicle’s range directly. Older integrations of solar power into vehicles usually only power 12 V equipment such as air conditioning and not the drive’s battery.
“We expect an annual range extension of about 5200 km for driving in Lower Saxony, and significantly more in more southern regions. This would save more than one in four grid-based charging stops,” says Prof. Robby Peibst, project coordinator of the Street project.
The demonstrator vehicle has completed initial tests and can currently be seen driving through the Hanover region for further testing at different times of the day and year and in different weather conditions.
The Street project is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. The results will also flow into the international working group ‘Task 17 – PV for Transport’ in the Photovoltaic Power Systems Program of the International Energy Agency (IEA).
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