Armor is a French company that manufactures thin-film solar panels. One of its products, named ASCA, uses semiconductor compounds based on organic polymers printed on flexible films. Its flexibility makes ASCA mountable on curved surfaces, something traditional solar panels cannot do. In tests, it can be wound and unwound 50,000 without loss of performance.
According to the company, ASCA weighs only about 450 grams per square meter. To put it in perspective, it is about 30 times lighter than other technologies. A piece of paper the size of a sheet of paper weighs only 30 grams, about the same as 6 sheets of paper of the same size.
Recently, the company demonstrated ASCA thin-film solar panels on a Gazelle electric car as a car cover.
There’s a lot of interest in adding solar panels to electric cars to extend their range, but Armor is the first to put them on a car cover rather than on the car itself. The company says its ASCA thin-film products can also be embedded directly into a car’s surface. ASCA are resistant to high pressure and shock.
The thin-film solar panels cover an area of 4 square meters, enough to provide extra power to the vehicle and increase its range up to 15 kilometers a day, with the car exposed to the sun for 8 hours. The company has set itself the goal of gaining 48 km of autonomy per day within 3 years.
“With the retractable sun canopy, the Gazelle was designed entirely to reduce carbon impact during travel,” says an Armor spokesperson. “The aim of the ASCA organic photovoltaic film is to make tomorrow’s transport more autonomous and consume less energy.
Is a solar car cover the perfect solution for all electric vehicle owners? Of course not. If you park in a garage at home or at work, it’s not going to be of much use. And obviously it cannot be used in places where it can be stolen. But it’s a step forward for the EV revolution, which is a good thing.