OPES Solutions is awarded with the sustainability award in automotive 2022 from ATZ/MTZ Group and management consultants Arthur D. Little. The award-winning technology enables solar integration of everything from cargo bikes to buses to a variety of transportation vehicles through standardized manufacturing processes during vehicle construction. The custom solar sandwich substitutes the roof or wall. It’s lightweight, robust and delivers free, sustainable energy to extend range or power refrigeration or HVAC systems. Only by combining our efforts and working with several industries together we can make faster progress. The award proves that we are on the right track with this cross-industry partnership with Brianza Plastica.
Best practice for vehicle integrated solar
To date, solar modules have not been integrated into commercial vehicle bodies straight from the factory, and retrofitting is not commercially viable. This is because it is necessary to use solutions available on the market. These were not developed for vehicle requirements, are not very attractive in terms of weight, appearance and integration, and bring major disadvantages in vehicle construction. For example, the thickness and weight of the solar panel can lead to losses in cargo space or payload. Our product that won the Sustainability Award in Automotive is a new type of sandwich construction in which photovoltaics are integrated directly, completely and vehicle-specifically. The solar integration is done into the outer structure of the commercial vehicle, generates sustainable energy and is very light, thin and efficient. The solar panel thus becomes the roof or wall of the commercial vehicle body. Full integration is seamless and also requires less material, as nothing has to be constructed on top.
Since some materials for composite solutions established in the industry did not meet the technical requirements in terms of temperature resistance, expansion behavior, joining technology and environmental influences, new materials were developed specifically to meet these requirements. With project partners such as TESA, SABA and body and vehicle construction experts, experienced partners were involved right from the start.
Solar mobility changes the transport sector
The great strength of vehicle integrated photovoltaics (VIPV) is to generate energy where it’s needed. Depending on the vehicle the energy is used differently, but they always have one thing in common: the integrated solar sandwich construction delivers sustainable energy and therefore has a positive effect on the vehicle’s carbon footprint. Vehicle-integrated photovoltaics are the natural next step toward zero emissions.
Currently, the transport sector contributes to 24% of global CO2 emissions, with cars, commercial vehicles, trucks and buses accounting for more than 75% of this. Integrated Solar panels help decarbonize the sector and accelerate the transformation towards CO2-free mobility through the benefits brought.
On the one hand, vehicles become a visible and relevant producer of energy and thus do not remain just energy consumers. An installation capacity for newly registered vehicles of 6 – 8 GWp per year in Europe is conceivable. With a growing number of e-vehicles, the power grid will not only be significantly relieved, but also strengthened by Vehicle2Grid technologies (V2G).
On the other hand, solar panels can enable the penetration of e-vehicles where a reliable power grid is not available to the extent it is in Europe, further democratizing mobility.
Sustainability Award in Automotive for outstanding innovations
The “Sustainability Award in Automotive” from ATZ/MTZ and Arthur D. Little honors companies that develop outstanding sustainable mobility solutions in environmental and climate protection as well as in society and the government in the automotive industry. OPES Solutions won the award in the category: Technology – raw materials. Jury member were Stefanie Wolff (NOW GmbH), Peter Bering (Engineers4Future), Prof. Lutz Eckstein (ika, RWTH Aachen), Prof. Peter Gutzmer (ATZ/MTZ) und Dr. Philipp Seidel (ADL).