Market Insights

How Is Retractable Solar Roof Technology Redefining EV Charging?

September 20, 2023 by Emily Newton

Retractable solar roofs made from flexible, glass-free PV panels can be used to charge electric vehicles in areas where snow is common.

What if solar roofs could fold and bend to adapt to changing weather conditions? One innovative solar roof developer is working to achieve this with a major development in electric vehicle (EV) charging in Europe. 


The HORIZON folding solar roof can be used to power EV chargers.

The HORIZON folding solar roof can be used to power EV chargers. Image used courtesy of Dhp Technology


Solar roof developer Dhp Technology is collaborating with Aventron, BG Consulting, and Cargo Sous Terrain to develop next-gen EV charging stations. The project includes plans for 45 roadside charging stations that will use Dhp’s innovative HORIZON retractable solar roofs.


Retractable and Adaptable Solar Roofs

The unique solar panels are ultra lightweight, which allows for easier movement and reduces the need for vertical supports. As a result, the panels can fold in an accordion formation without compromising the structural stability of the solar roof.

This design addresses concerns about snowfall covering solar panels. Dhp Technology is based in Switzerland, where snowfall is common, creating logistical challenges for solar power generation. The HORIZON solar roof could significantly impact well beyond Switzerland, changing EV charging technology worldwide.

Dhp’s retractable solar roof might sound like a simple update to typical solar roof configurations. However, this cutting-edge design could have major implications for solar EV charging. It’s part of a growing movement to redefine solar EV charging for large-scale, long-term implementation.


Retractable solar roofs used for EV charging.

Retractable solar roofs used for EV charging. Image used courtesy of Dhp Technology

Advancing PV Panel Materials Science

To reduce the weight of their PV panels, Dhp needed to extend the distance between structural supports. They accomplished this by leaving behind conventional solar cell designs and building a new PV panel that’s entirely glass-free. It’s also more sustainable since it uses 50% less construction material than conventional panels.

As demand for charging infrastructure grows, engineers must get creative and rethink conventional solar technology. This is driving advances in PV panel materials science, such as Dhp’s glass-free panel design.

Making solar EV charging possible anywhere in the world for an affordable cost will require even more innovations. For instance, glass-filled thermoset plastics could potentially be used for next-gen glass panels with significantly lower weight than their predecessors. Thermoplastics are already used in semiconductor manufacturing, so the technology exists. It simply needs to adapt for use in solar charging technology.

Thermoplastics may have high potential in this niche since they balance low weight with high durability, particularly high heat resistance. This trait is essential for solar panels, especially in regions with high amounts of hot, direct sunlight. Thin, flexible, solar cells could allow panel installation on a broader range of surfaces and enable panels to roll up.


Addressing Logistical Issues of EV Infrastructure

Solar power seems like a no-brainer for EV charging. In places like sunny California, it’s straightforward to implement. Unfortunately, that’s not the case in most regions, where inclement weather may be common. Creative approaches to solar panel engineering are required to make solar a viable power source for EV charging infrastructure worldwide.


The glass-free panels are designed in modules to allow for extension and retraction as needed.

The glass-free panels are designed in modules to allow for extension and retraction as needed. Image used courtesy of Dhp Technology


Dhp’s solar roof addresses the problem because it solves a core logistical problem in EV infrastructure. How can solar providers keep panels clean in the winter without excessive maintenance time and cost? Dhp’s design completely resolves the issues posed by snowfall.

The ability to adjust the positioning of solar roofs could have other uses. For instance, the second most common issue with solar power is shade and other obstacles blocking the panels. Ideally, EV chargers are constructed well away from possible sources of shade. However, this significantly limits where solar charging stations can be located.

The ability to adjust the positioning of a solar roof could resolve this issue. In fact, with the help of AI and IoT sensors, engineers could even create a solar roof that autonomously repositions itself. The angle and position of the panels could change based on weather patterns and any local obstacles throughout the day, maximizing energy collection as much as possible.

This creative approach to solar roof technology improves the accessibility and sustainability of EV charging. Innovative solar roofs ensure charging stations always have power, helping to ease consumers’ concerns about the availability of charging compared to gas or diesel.


The Future of EV Charging Technology

Dhp Technology’s retractable HORIZON solar roof is a huge step forward for solar EV charging. It resolves issues posed by snowfall obstructing solar panels – a common challenge worldwide. This is just one of many advancements redefining the future of solar-powered EV charging.