Solar-Powered Pavilion Volvo

Most electric vehicle owners face the risk of an incomplete journey, especially if they don’t have a power backup system. This is because most vehicles are powered by a collector system or energy from external sources.  So the vehicles can hardly go beyond 100 miles without sputtering out on the highway. To avoid discontinued trips, you need to have a power backup system for your vehicle. Volvo comes in to mitigate this issue by introducing a solar-powered pavilion for charging carport named pure tension. The solar-powered pavilion came out of the collaborative efforts of Buro Happold Engineers with architects and designers from Los-Angeles (Synthesis Designs and Architecture). Though well experienced, it took them months of research, engineering, and design refinement to culminate the pure tension. Apart from charging the car, the solar-powered pavilion is also flexible and can fold flat to fit in the trunk. Read through the article to learn more about the solar-powered pavilion.


The solar-powered pavilion has a lightweight aluminum structure and fabric and the photovoltaic skin that converts sunlight into energy. The two components can easily fold to fit in the vehicle trunk or for easy carriage by two people.

Build design

Volvo Solar Pavilion Design
Volvo Solar Pavilion Design

The original build design for the pavilion was introduced by SDA using the form-finding process called dynamic mesh relaxation. Buro Happold further improved the geometric topology developed by SDA and came up with an engineered method of form-finding which incorporates material properties to develop the contours for the power system. After verifying the SDA form-finding process, the engineering process revealed 90-95% accuracy with a maximum variance of 2 inches.

The continuous tensioned skin has three-layer segments of geometric patterns that display the geometry and create an appealing moiré effect.

The surrounding frame of the structure features a system of 24 CNC bent aluminum pipes with swag at the ends for a quick connection. In contrast, the tensile membrane features a vinyl encapsulated polyester material.

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The membrane attaches to the aluminum frame with its spandex sleeves. It also has a zippered seam for joining its two pieces. The pavilion can be put up or dismantled in an hour by a maximum of two people. It has a collective total weight of 150lbs. The pavilion’s 252 photovoltaic panels of size 7 “x7” are lightweight and flexible. The panels face multiple directions since they lie within the graphic design of the vinyl tiles. This results in low performance by some modules.

The modules are, however, customized to optimize power. So, maximum power point tracking (MPPT) provides optimal current for the pavilion and switch off the poorly performing modules. The skin produces a direct current of 450 watts on a sunny day. The DC is then channeled to the portable battery through the wiring fixation in the seams. The battery, in turn, charges the Volvo V60. It takes 12 working hours for a pavilion to charge a completely depleted battery to the maximum capacity.


Power dense

The solar-powered pavilion has a large surface area with its 252 photovoltaic panels exposed to the sun. They generate enough power to charge the Volvo V60 system.


Generally, solar-powered cars do not cause harmful emissions to the environment since there is no burning of gases. The invention of solar-powered pavilion Volvo was a good fortune to the lovers of nature.

From the same category: Fastest Electric Cars in the World

A prototype of natural power

The development of solar-powered pavilion Volvo formed a basis for the formation of other solar-powered cars. This has led to more conservation of resources and less pollution to the environment. Also, the solar-powered pavilion commissioning in Italy made many people realize how the benefits of electric engines and adopted the trend. You will be surprised to see the use of electric vehicles in private and public transport.

More comfortable driving

The electric motors in solar-powered cars are relatively smaller than the fuel engines; they operate smoothly without noise and vibration. Additionally, electric cars are lightweight and can, therefore, turn and stop with ease. This was, of course, true for solar-powered pavilion Volvo-v60.

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The verdict

The efficiency of solar-powered pavilion Volvo in charging the Volvo V60 led to its victory and commissioning in Italy. Its build design inspired many manufacturers and individuals who adopted the trend. The use of electric vehicles is seen in world sports today. And, with the technological revolutions in the transport industry, the use of electric vehicles will soon be seen in private and public transport.

Written by M Eduard

M. Eduard was born and raised in San Francisco, CA. Eduard spent his MBA summer internship at Sungevity, a residential solar energy retail company in Oakland, CA. He started this website to share his knowledge about renewable energy.