Audi and Alta Devices, a subsidiary of solar-cell maker, Hanergy Thin Film Power, have agreed to work together to integrate solar cells into the panoramic glass roofs of Audi models. With this cooperation, the partners intend to add solar power to Audi electric vehicles to increase their range. Audi plans to complete the first by the end of 2017.
As part of the first step, Audi and Alta Devices will integrate gallium arsenide-based thin-film solar cells into a car’s panoramic glass roof. In the future, Audi plans to cover almost the entire surface of the roof of its electric vehicles with flexible, thin, and efficient solar cells from Alta Devices.
In an early stage of the development, electricity generated from the roof-mounted solar cells will flow into the car’s electric system. This can supply electricity to power for example, the air-conditioning system and seat heaters, an energy boost that has a positive impact on the range of an Audi electric vehicle.
“The range of electric cars plays a decisive role for our customers. Together with Alta Devices and Hanergy, we plan to install innovative solar technology in our electric cars that will extend their range and is also sustainable,” stated Audi Board of Management Member for Procurement, Dr. Bernd Martens. In a later stage, electricity from solar cells could directly charge the traction batteries of Audi electric vehicles.
“That would be a milestone along the way to achieving sustainable, emission-free mobility,” continued Martens. The green electricity will be generated by Alta Devices’ gallium arsenide-based solar cells, which are very thin and flexible, and according to Alta Devices hold the world-record for efficiency. Also, Alta Devices says its solar cells perform exceptionally well in low-light and high-temperature environments.
Dr. Jian Ding, SVP of Hanergy Thin Film Power Group Ltd., CEO of Alta Devices, Inc. and co-leader of the Audi/Hanergy Thin Film Solar Cell Research and Development Project, said “This partnership with Audi is Alta Devices first cooperation with a high-end auto brand. By combining Alta’s continuing breakthroughs in solar technology with Audi’s drive toward the future of the auto industry, we will define the solar car of the future.”