The South Korean government has developed the world’s first vehicle sunroof that can generate power while transmitting light in cooperation with private firms and national research and development (R&D) centers.
The new sunroof opens the way for commercializing an auxiliary in-vehicle power supply system that can operate a ventilation system without starting the engine.
According to Jusung Engineering Co. on May 17, the company worked together with the Korea Electronics Technology Institute and Hyundai Motor Co. and succeeded in developing a light-transmitting thin film solar cell modules for the first time in the world.
The project was funded by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy and the Korea Institute of Energy Technology Evaluation and Planning as one of the nation’s new renewable energy R&D projects.
A solar sunroof embedded with solar cells is a technology that has been developed by global auto producers, including Germany’s Audi and Japan’s Toyota.
In particular, the Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid electric vehicle has a solar sunroof that serves as an auxiliary power supply system. The sunroof is embedded with solar cell modules that were jointly developed by Panasonic. The sunroof is known to extend the vehicle’s mileage by 6 kilometers on a sunny day. U.S.-based electric car producer Tesla also mass produces the Model 3 electric sedan equipped with a solar roof. In Korea, a sunroof using solar cells has not been commercialized yet.
Unlike other existing products, the solar sunroof developed by Jusung Engineering can transmit light. Existing crystalline solar cell-based sunroofs cannot take in enough light as they do not transmit light. As such, the new sunroof stands a good chance of creating a new market.
The solar sunroof can not only increase the driving distance of electric cars but also convert light to electricity to run a ventilation system inside the car. Ultimately, it can also supply power to external devices, including the black box that requires power around the clock.