Europe’s first solar-powered electric aircraft charging point


From pv magazine Germany

In many remote regions of the world, small light aircraft take care of the people who live there. However, refueling the aircraft is often a problem because the necessary infrastructure is lacking. On top of that, the high costs for fuel must be considered.

With this in mind, UK non-profit organization Nuncats has set itself the goal of creating a more practical, cheaper, and more climate-friendly alternative – to power, with solar, electric small aircraft.

Nuncats has now put a demonstration facility into operation at an airfield in Old Buckenham, around 150km northeast of London, which is intended to show what a photovoltaic charging station for electric aircraft could look like.

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The 14kW station is equipped with 33 Q Peak Duo L-G8 solar modules from Korea-based manufacturer Hanwha Q-Cells. The modules are mounted on a frame developed by UK solar installer Renenergy which is similar to the construction for solar carports. According to Nuncats, this is the first facility of this type in Europe.

The modules provide solar power to a specially adapted Zenith 750 aircraft – the “electric Sky Jeep.” This prototype has a 30kWh battery, which is enough for a 30-minute flight. According to Nuncats, this is the minimum for use in rural areas. The facility at Old Buckenham Airfield currently uses a single-phase, 5kW charger. However, the charging infrastructure can be adapted in such a way that it best suits each application.

Tim Bridge, co-founder of Nuncats, hopes the facility will become a launchpad for further airspace electrification. “In the developed world, the benefits of electric aircraft are all about reducing CO2 and noise emissions,” says Bridge. For the rest of the world, a major untapped advantage is that electric aircraft offer a robust, low-maintenance alternative that is not dependent on fossil fuel supply chains.

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