By guest author Jeffrey Cheung
Greentech startup Levante has launched a Kickstarter campaign for the world’s first origami-inspired, portable solar panels.
Founded in 2021 by avid sailors and campers, Sara Plaga and Kim-Joar Myklebust, Levante was born out of their shared love of the outdoors – and not least their strong relationship with nature and respect for the environment.
The Milan-based startup is determined to create clean energy while revolutionizing the traditional, fixed design of solar panels that often comes with space and weight limitations – as well as the difficulty of transportation and installation.
“Although the use of renewable energy in mobility is already widespread, the current solar panel solutions still have too many limitations,” Plaga explains. “Rigid solar panels are powerful but also too heavy and constrained to a permanent installation – which greatly reduces the number of their applications, especially in a mobile setting.”
She adds, “On the other hand, portable solar panels are too flimsy, still bulky and just not powerful enough to make a meaningful contribution to covering the energy requirements needed when travelling.”
Sailors & campers
Inspired by those used in satellites and the modular versatility of Lego bricks, the patented Origami Solar Panels from Levante are compact – 40% more compact and 20% lighter than other similar products – offering the highest power-to-weight ratio on the market.
Designed and made in Italy, each panel can be opened up into a rigid structure offering up to 500 watts of power – the highest output currently available. Thanks to its origami design, the panel can also be folded down to more than eight times smaller when the batteries are fully charged or when on the move.
“According to the market validation carried out, 75% of sailors and campers would like to use renewable energy to power their electronic devices or the electric vehicle itself,” says Myklebust, “but what we found on the market is just not enough in terms of power output for the space available – and for the versatility of usage.”
Levante’s innovative design allows for easy installation and multiple applications to generate clean energy; from sailboats and camper vans to RVs, overlanding rigs, off-grid properties, and small houses. The solar panel can be connected directly to the solar charge controller of a vehicle, a power station, or even at home using a micro-inverter.
The modular design of the panel also means that multiples can be plugged in together to generate additional power. Besides, it is the only panel with detachable sections giving individuals more flexibility to adapt their power generation capabilities to meet their needs.
Levante has been working with marine experts Dan Deckert and Kika Mevs – famous for their YouTube channel, Sailing Uma – to test all its prototypes and develop the solar panel together. Meanwhile, Levante is also working with Man Evotech, a Torino-based engineering firm, to industrialise the solar panels – as well as an established Italian manufacturer for production.
Levante’s Kickstarter campaign is now live. Visit solar.levante.eco.