Solar cells could soon be integrated into car roofs as a result of a collaboration between Konarka Technologies and one of the world’s largest auto suppliers, Webasto.
The two companies signed an agreement to integrate Massachusett’s-based Konarka’s “power plastic” organic solar cells into Webasto’s automobile roofing systems. Their task is to increase the efficiency of the solar cells to magnitudes suitable for automobiles.
Konarka has been developing and commercializing a lightweight, flexible solar film that converts light to electricity. The film can be transparent or be produced in a variety of colors.
Munich-based Webasto, which specializes in automobile roof systems, has been developing car roofs with solar functionality for over 20 years. That research is ready to come to fruition on the world’s growing number of electric and hybrid vehicles.
Konarka says beyond being flexible, its organic solar cells are unbreakable and have achieved lab certified efficiencies of 8.4%. They apparently perform better in weak lighting conditions that other solar technologies, and at sub-optimal angles and higher temperatures.
Webasto, founded in 1901, remains a family-owned business with 30 production plants. It’s one of the top 100 automotive suppliers worldwide.
Konarka’s Power Plastic® is used in building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) and other glass applications. Its flexibility enables it to conform to curves and contours and the lightweight panels are bonded or laminated to a variety of materials to create independent power sources.