From Eindhoven to China: taylor can barely keep up with demand

November 16, 2022

In five years, the founders hope that the products now on the table will be sold around the world.

Founders Rein Westerdijk (left) and Michiel Roelofs. Photo: taylor

TU/e spin-off taylor develops electronics that make solar panels up to twenty percent more cost-effective. Over twenty thousand solar panels with this technology are now on the market.

Michiel Roelofs and Rein Westerdijk are the founders of taylor - a high-tech company that works on optimizing the efficiency of solar systems. Via innovation space - the expertise center of the TU/e that links scientific knowledge to start-ups and companies - they come into contact with a technology that had been buried somewhere at the bottom of a drawer. The concept? To have the the ability to efficiently generate electricity from very small solar cells.


START-UPS AND SPIN-OFFS

TU Eindhoven (TU/e) is a breeding ground for new ideas that rely on scientific research. Sometimes these ideas develop into spin-offs and start-ups. This brings scientific research a step closer to society. In collaboration with The Gate and Innovation Origins, TU/e puts the spotlight every month on an innovative company that has emerged from scientific research. In episode 9: taylor.


The (at that time still) students saw a lot of potential in it, and in any event, they had always wanted to be entrepreneurs. Through innovation space, they were given a few square meters to use in 2017 and started building a prototype solar panel that they integrated their microelectronics into.

Busy schedules

Five years later, it is a feat to catch up with them all at the same time for an interview. Never before have their schedules been so busy. Several of the 16-member team flies regularly to Asia, where 22,000 solar panels have since been manufactured with the technology of taylor. Recently they also announced that solar panels using taylor's technology generate up to twenty percent more energy.

Roelofs finds it especially surprising that their surrounding community assumed that the technology and the company would mature faster than they thought they would themselves.  "There we were, in 2017, with a prototype and a few powerpoint slides. In our minds, we were still students, while the partner was taking us very seriously. At that point, we couldn't be left out of the running."

Integrated microelectronics

Taylor develops electronics that are integrated into solar panels - Cell String Optimizers (CSOs) - and balances solar cells. "A solar panel is made up of 120 solar cells. When one of those cells catches more shade than the rest or has a fault, it affects the entire solar panel and generates less energy. Taylor's microelectronics divides the panel into six parts, so that one cell has less of an influence on the whole and the difference between the cells is not as much.

A solar panel is made up of 120 solar cells. When one of those cells catches more shade than the rest or has a fault, it affects the entire solar panel and generates less energy. Taylor's microelectronics divides the panel into six parts, so that one cell has less of an influence on the whole and the difference between the cells is not as much. Photo: taylor

Taylor works with solar panel manufacturers so that the electronics can be integrated directly. Those manufacturers are mostly located in China, where Westerdijk and Roelofs travel to regularly, despite the strict corona measures.

Substantial claim

Apart from increasing yield, the microelectronics also increase the level of fire safety. High voltages in the cells can be easily detected and deactivated. "Our electronics not only increase yield, but also extend the life of the panels. For one thing, we prevent cells from becoming damaged because they get too hot," Roelofs explains.

Twenty percent more yield is a substantial claim. Westerdijk: "That won't likely be exactly twenty percent in every single situation, but that is the average figure that emerges from the data that we've collected. This percentage shows up in scientific research and has been validated by TU Delft."

Software

Besides supplying electronics to solar panel manufacturers, taylor also develops software for installers and consumers. A router is connected directly to the solar panels and transmits information to the end customer or installer. This way, they can check the output or any faults on an online dashboard," Roelofs explains. Repairing faults is also done more efficiently because the technician can immediately see which panel needs repairs.

'We're applying the brakes ourselves now'

The main difference compared to five years ago, is that they themselves are no longer as closely involved in all the processes. "When you are working toward making your first product, the whole company still all comes together. But if you are making a product for the thousandth time and want to be active in several countries, then you can't be involved in every detail yourself anymore. That took a while to get used to."

In five years, the entrepreneurs hope that the products that are on the shelves now will be sold all over the world. For the time being, they are still focusing on the Benelux, but demand is now coming from everywhere. Sustainable energy has taken flight recently in a way that the young entrepreneurs can barely keep up with. Westerdijk: "The customer is really keen. We're applying the brakes ourselves now. It's about how we can quickly build up everything in a healthy way so that we can continue to grow."

Media contact

Frans Raaijmakers
(Science Information Officer)

START-UPS AND SPIN-OFFS

In collaboration with The Gate and Innovation Origins, TU/e puts the spotlight every month on an innovative company that has emerged from scientific research.y

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