DSM and Lightyear join forces to scale the commercialisation of integrated EV solar roofs

Source: press release, 14 May 2020

Martijn Lammers, Lightyear’s Chief of Strategy and Co-Founder, and Pascal de Sain, Vice President DSM Advanced Solar, agreement signing (photo: Lightyear)

High-tech mobility innovator Lightyear and Royal DSM, a global science-based company in nutrition, health and sustainable living, have signed an agreement to jointly scale the commercialisation of Lightyear’s unique solar-powered roof for the electric vehicle market. With this solution, both companies aim to accelerate the global adoption of a broad range of Electric Vehicles (EVs).

Specifically, the partnership aims to integrate solar-powered roofs in a variety of electric vehicles, including cars, vans and buses – thus enabling users to charge their vehicle directly with clean energy. The companies are teaming up to assess the market, starting with pilot projects for customers from the automotive and public transport sector, where the integration of a solar roof could represent a smart investment.

Today, the global EV market has enormous growth potential. It was valued at USD 160-plus billion in 2019; and is projected to reach USD 800-plus billion by 2027 according to international market assessments from Bloomberg, IDTechEx and TIME. To accelerate this growth, the EV industry now needs to overcome the twin hurdles of limited range and grid-dependency.

The alliance between Lightyear and DSM addresses this need by enabling various EVs to increase their range through energy harvested directly from the sun. The integration of a solar roof is expected to be a good investment in multiple EV market segments.

The technology was initially developed by Lightyear for the solar panels of Lightyear One. Lightyear One is set to be the world’s most efficient long-range solar car when it launches in 2021 – with a WLTP range of 725 kilometres. Featuring 5 square metres of integrated solar cells protected by double-curved and super-strong safety glass, the solar roof captures sunlight continually whether the car is moving or stationary. The result is that in optimised vehicles like Lightyear One, the solar roof can deliver enough energy to cover an average of 70-90% of the yearly mileage.

DSM’s Conductive backsheet is an integral element of the solar roof – enabling all the connections of the solar cells to be put on the back of the solar panel – thus making every available centimetre on the front of the module available for capturing sunlight. The reduction in electrical (cell-to-module) losses not only delivers a 3% increase in power output; it has the added advantage of contributing to a more stylish sunroof with aesthetic appeal.

Pascal de Sain, Vice President DSM Advanced Solar, says, “By stepping up our collaboration with Lightyear we are creating an entirely new market for ‘lossless’ high power back-contact technology – with the potential to change the face of clean mobility and make a big impact on climate change. We look forward to bringing more than a decade of market and scientific leadership in solar to this collaboration. Our goal is simple; to make clean, solar energy a reality for all.”

Martijn Lammers, Lightyear’s Chief of Strategy and Co-Founder, adds, “We want to revolutionise the way that people travel. By scaling up the accessibility of our solar technology through our partnership with DSM, we can accelerate the mass adoption of electric vehicles by making them sun-powered.”

Ultimately, this partnership will enable a new generation of smart solar-efficient solutions from two sustainability leaders that share a common goal: Ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable modern energy for all (United Nations Sustainable Development Goal no 7). In fact, the DSM company strategy is fully aligned with these goals as part of its purpose-led, performance-driven strategy of creating brighter lives for all; and now, even brighter motoring.