Solar-panel-covered hybrid truck offers 3,000 to 6,000 free miles a year
Leaving energy on the table isn’t good for business. A new academic-industry initiative is developing lightweight solar panels to harvest natural energy from all that solar-soaked truck real estate to decrease operational costs, emissions and the imperative of a sustainable transport system.
The Swedish research collaboration between Uppsala University, Eksjö Maskin & Truck, Midsummer, Ernsts Express, Dalakraft and Scania is examining how much solar energy can be captured, how carbon emissions can be decreased, how reconfigured hybrid trucks can interact with the power grid via two-way charging, and how to holistically decrease the climate impact of truck transport.
The initial 560-horsepower plug-in hybrid experimental truck has an 18-m (59-ft) trailer that is covered by 100 sq m (1,076 sq ft) of solar panels, giving it the equivalent solar-surface area of an average house equipped with similarly powerful 13.2-kilowatt-peak panels.
The truck uses new, lightweight tandem solar cells, that are based on a combination of Midsummer’s solar cells and new perovskite solar cells, and generates an estimated 8,000 kWh annually when operated in Sweden. The research truck’s batteries have a capacity of 300 kWh, being 100 kWh on the truck and 200 kWh on the trailer.
Even given Sweden’s tangential and weather-related deprivation of solar energy, the truck’s solar energy contribution offers a prolonged annual driving range of up to 5,000 km (3,100 miles). Countries with more overhead sun hours can expect more readily available solar energy, with the researchers expecting double that energy contribution for countries close to the equator. That is, trucks in countries with plenty of available solar energy can expect an extra 10,000 km (6,200 miles) free-of-charge.
The solar powered truck has been developed in a research project party funded by Sweden’s innovation agency, Vinnova.