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Tech startup creates 'accordion-like' solar arrays with the ability to power EV charging stations: 'We are helping to build the energy and mobility revolution'

The plan is to put 45 of the Horizon systems along highways, juicing up electric vehicle charging stations.

Tech startup creates folding solar panel arrays

Photo Credit: Dhp-Technology

Experts at Switzerland's DHP Technology are putting squeezebox principles to work in impressive, folding solar panel arrays that will soon provide retractable, power-generating canopies over dozens of Swiss parking lots.   

The Horizon is a common-sense approach to sunray catching that can conserve land and increase "economic efficiency," its makers claim. And, after watching a video of the accordion-like contraption in action, it's easy to wonder why this concept hasn't already gone mainstream. 

Designed in Switzerland, Horizon is being marketed with snow in mind. The panels can fold in during heavy snowfall, expanding again after the storm to catch more sun power. An example in the clip shows a parking lot under the structure.  

Part of the secret sauce for Horizon is in the impressive engineering, according to company experts. The array uses up to 50 percent fewer materials than other panel systems, the makers claim. 

Lightweight ropes support the panels and "patented folding mechanism." There isn't any glass in the modules, making the operation even lighter. From ground to panel, the system can stand at about 19.6 feet, Electrek's Michelle Lewis reported. She wrote that the folding array would be a good fit for highway rest stops. Parking lots are one of the early places DHP plans to install the systems. 

The company's engineers designed Horizon to allow for vehicle movement underneath. The panels, suspended on ropes overhead, protect the asphalt. They also keep vehicles cool while parked in the summer, DHP experts note

"This allows very wide distances between supports and a great height above the ground. [Allowing] — even large — vehicles, operation, and … full freedom of movement," DHP reports on the company website.

The plan is to put 45 of the Horizon systems along Swiss highways, juicing up electric vehicle charging stations. The power produced by the tech could energize 7,800 homes (with an average usage of 4,500 kilowatt hours a year), Electrek reports

The time frame for the systems to go online is still on the (pun intended) horizon. But it's in sight. Construction should begin within 12 months, with arrays completed by 2027, Electrek reports

Also on the work order is a massive 4.2-acre folding system over a sewage treatment plant in Germany. The system will use 5,280 modules to generate power from the sun, DHP reports

The clean power from the folding array could supply about 11 percent of the treatment plant's yearly electricity needs, per DHP. Horizon is expected to be installed there by 2026

It's part of the company's vision to build unobtrusive solar systems over existing infrastructure.  

"A contemporary and sustainable energy production over already used industrial and traffic areas — that is what [DHP] is committed to. We are helping to build the energy and mobility revolution," company co-founder Gian Andri Diem said on DHP's website. 

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