Solar campervan starts Swiss tour

Solar campervan starts Swiss tour

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

Soleva, a 100% solar powered campervan, has started a tour around Switzerland to test the photovoltaic panel technology.

The Soleva solar campervan is equipped with advanced PV solar panels from CSEM, the Swiss technology innovation centre in Neuchâtel, which can meet all its energy needs and charge up to 150 km per day. The batteries and motor provide autonomy of nearly 250km.

The solar campervan will visit 100 towns, making key stops in Lausanne, Zurich, Davos, Lugano, and Sion. 

The Solera project started in 2021 with engineer Curdin Wüthrich and four friends transforming a 1987 campervan, originally running on diesel, into a 100% clean vehicle. The internal combustion engine has been replaced by an electric motor and batteries and a deployable solar installation on the roof allows it to run and operate entirely on solar energy. The interior has also benefited from a 100% eco-friendly makeover. Fitted with recycled, local, and sustainable materials, it can accommodate three berths, a kitchen space, and a bathroom. 

“This project was not only a technical feat, but is also an inspiring illustration of what passion, innovation and determination can achieve,” said Wüthrich, Co-Founder and CEO of Soleva. 

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The technological heart of the Soleva campervan lies in its high-performance solar panels. Developed by CSEM in collaboration with the EPFL’s PV-Lab, these lightweight panels are adjustable, optimizing energy production throughout the day.  

Students at the Eindhoven University of Technology have also built a camper van powered by solar panels. Stella Vita is a mobile home that generates energy through its solar panels on the roof and uses this energy for both driving and living. Stella Vita generates enough solar energy to travel up to 730 km on a sunny day as well as drive, shower, watch TV, charge a laptop and make coffee.

“Projects like Soleva provide us with the opportunity to test and improve the application of our lightweight panels for mobility and mobile electric stations,” said Matthieu Despeisse, Group Leader Solar Modules at CSEM. 

 “CSEM and the PV-Lab are delighted to have contributed to the Soleva project, particularly by adding 1350 watts of solar power based on resilient, hail-resistant, lightweight photovoltaic module technology,” said Antonin Faes, Focus Area Manager for Integrated and Lightweight PV Modules at CSEM and Team Leader at the EPFL’s PV-Lab.  

The Swiss tour is beginning of a crucial test phase to evaluate the prototype’s performance. The lessons learned from this adventure will inform future concept improvements and explore partnership opportunities for future industrialization.

“Our partnership with CSEM has been essential in making the Soleva campervan a concrete example of what sustainable mobility can achieve through advanced and innovative technological solutions,” said Tobia Wyss, Solar Integration Manager at Soleva.


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