Vehicle-integrated photovoltaics for electric ground transport


Canada’s Capsolar, a manufacturer of vehicle-integrated PV (VIPV) systems, recently completed an electric tow tractor ground transport project.

“We designed, built and installed the solar PV system, including the electronic and physical integrations. It is used at one of the largest US-based automotive industry original equipment manufacturers (OEMs),” Capsolar’s CEO, Samy Benhamza, told pv magazine. “Our customer uses electric ground-support vehicles for heavy-duty material transport.”

The Capsolar system consists of 5.6 kW of power based on 20 solar panels, a high-efficiency controller system, and a data management tracking platform. It enables a 30% to 40% range increase per battery charge, according to Benhamza.

Looking ahead, the Canadian company is in discussion to equip the rest of the OEM's fleet with “an improved and larger system with higher efficiency.”

The U.S. ground support vehicle project comes on the back of Capsolar completing construction of a 3 MW pilot line at 560.3 m2 facility in Montreal, Quebec.

Capsolar was founded in 2020 and began developing custom PV systems for small vehicles, such as electric golf carts, and has since expanded into electric passenger vehicles, boating and ground transportation applications.

It typically uses cells supplied by US-based manufacturer Maxeon that have 24% efficiency, along with high-efficiency charge controllers to optimize power output. The company can customize module shape, texture, size, and color to match clients' requests.

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