Flexible solar panels target trucks

Flexible solar panels target trucks

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

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A European startup is aiming to make flexible solar panels using technology from Hasselt University, TNO and imec.

EnFoil combines technologies and processes based on CIGS technology, made from copper-indium-gallium and selenium.

The 2mm thick panels have a 17% conversion efficiency producing 150 Wp/m² and can be customised in shape with a bend radius up to 10cm and length up to 10m.

“This technology offers light weight, flexibility and impact resistance which is crucial for many new applications,” says prof. Bart Vermang of imo-imomec, imec’s associate lab at UHasselt. “And the solar cells achieve almost the same efficiency as standard panels”. 

Initial talks between EnFoil and industry to produce the solar panels and integrate them onto the roofs of trucks are ongoing. 

Enfoil CIGS flexible solar panels

Integrate solar cells on surfaces of trucks, buildings or tents means using standard, typically flat products of a pre-defined size that people have to integrate themselves.

“This mainly limited the technology to exclusive construction projects, or as an expensive opt-ins for cars. With Enfoil, we aim to changing this,” says Marc Meuris, CTO of EnFoil. “We intend to make custom solar foils in any size and shape at large scale. The solar foils will then directly be installed or further integrated into the products of our customers.  The production will be done locally and we will guarantee the feasibility and integration of the final products.” 

“With Enfoil, the new spin-off of UHasselt and imec, we are now taking a very big step,” says Dominique Coster, CEO of EnFoil. EnFoil stands for Energy Enabling Foil.  

“A wide array of applications will be possible, such as integrating the solar cells on swimming pool covers or roof tiles. Currently, we mostly focus on the logistics sector, aiming to integrate our materials on roofs and sidewalls of trucks to power their sensors and track & trace systems. It would save the battery, and under abundant sunlight, the battery could even be charged,” says Marc Meuris, CTO of EnFoil.  

The project has already received support from the European Research Council through an ERC Proof of Concept. This grant, worth €150,000, aims to bring new technologies to the market. With this, UHasselt will recruit a researcher who will continue to work with EnFoil on product development.

“We see this grant as great recognition and a sign that the industry believes in our product and sees the potential to bring it to the market,” says Vermang.

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