© Lightyear

Dutch start-up Lightyear from Helmond has once more pulled off a coup. Today it was announced that the company that emerged from Solar Team Eindhoven is cementing its ties with Royal DSM from Geleen, also from The Netherlands. The aim of the collaboration is to see if Lightyear’s solar roofs can also be made to fit other electric cars, vans, and buses.

This marks the opening of a much larger market for Lightyear. The company is currently putting the finishing touches on the Lightyear One. That’s their electric car that will have a range of 725 kilometers when it’s launched in 2021. This will make it the most efficient long-distance solar car in the world … and a potential rival of Tesla.

US$800 billion and counting …

Over the next few months, according to a DSM press release, they’ll be seeking clients in the automobile industry and the public transport sector to set up pilots. The global market for electric vehicles (EVs) offers enormous potential, DSM states. In 2019 it was estimated to be worth more than US$160 billion. Furthermore, research carried out by Bloomberg, IDTechEx, and TIME suggests it will exceed US$800 billion by 2027.

DSM and Lightyear are not the only southern Dutch companies to have recognized this potential. As Innovation Origins reported yesterday, IM Efficiency from Heerlen also wants to conquer a segment of the market for solar roofs on vehicles.

DSM also collaborated on Lightyear One

In order to speed up the growth of EVs, DSM believes that the sector must overcome two obstacles. Firstly, the limited range of EVs. And secondly, the (overly-extensive) dependence on the grid. Lightyear’s innovative roof-mounted solar panel concept can help resolve both problems.

©Lightyear

Lightyear originally developed its technology for solar panels on its Lightyear One. The solar roof of this car consists of five square meters of integrated solar cells protected by ultra-strong, double curved safety glass. These capture continual sunlight regardless of whether the car is driving or stationary. This means that the solar roof in an optimized vehicle such as the Lightyear One can generate enough electricity to cover on average between 70-90% of its annual mileage.

DSM is already an important partner of Lightyear. DSM’s “conductive backsheet” is an integral part of the solar roof. It enables all connections of the solar cells to be placed on the back of the panel. In this way, the entire front of the module can be used to capture sunlight. This reduces any electrical leakage between the cells and the module, providing 3% more power. Plus, it has the added advantage of making the solar roof look more stylish and attractive.

Clean energy for everyone

DSM Advanced Solar Vice President Pascal de Sain stated: “By stepping up our collaboration with Lightyear we are creating an entirely new market for ‘lossless’ high-performance 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, co-founder of Lightyear adds: “We want to revolutionize 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.”

As DSM states, this partnership will ultimately lead to a new generation of smart, efficient solar energy solutions from two leaders in sustainability who share a common goal: assured access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all.

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About the author

Author profile picture Maurits Kuypers graduated as a macroeconomist from the University of Amsterdam, specialising in international work. He has been active as a journalist since 1997, first for 10 years on the editorial staff of Het Financieele Dagblad in Amsterdam, then as a freelance correspondent in Berlin and Central Europe. When it comes to technological innovations, he always has an eye for the financial feasibility of a project.