Scania Trials Solar-Powered Trucks on Public Roads
In a bid to increase sustainability in transport, a solar-panel-clad trailer on a hybrid truck is being tested on public roads. The project is a result of two years of collaborative research among Scania, Uppsala University, Eksjö Maskin & Truck, Midsummer, Ernsts Express, and Dalakraft.
“Scania’s purpose is to drive the shift towards a sustainable transport system. Never before have solar panels been used to generate energy to a truck’s powertrain like we do in this collaboration. This natural energy source can significantly decrease emissions in the transport sector. It is great to be at the forefront in the development of the next generation’s trucks,” says Stas Krupenia, Head of the Research Office at Scania.
The research project aims to quantify the solar energy generated by the truck and the resulting reduction in carbon emissions. As part of the test, researchers have developed efficient, lightweight solar panels tailored for commercial vehicles. The project also explores how these solar trucks could interact with the power grid, and models their impact when several trucks, like the test truck example, are connected to the power grid.
“This is an exciting project where academia and industry together try to decrease the climate impact from truck transports. The results from this unique truck will be very interesting,” says Erik Johansson, Project Manager and Professor of physical chemistry at Uppsala University.”
With a trailer almost entirely covered in solar panels, the hybrid truck gains an extended driving range of up to 5,000 kilometers annually in Sweden. In sunnier locales like Spain, the solar panels could potentially double the driving range.
Advanced lightweight tandem solar cells are being researched within the project. These cells could considerably enhance the efficiency of the solar panels, doubling their energy output.
Erik Olsson, Head of Corporate Development, Midsummer, stated, “Our solar panels are excellent for applications that make commercial vehicles sustainable. We see great potential to decrease the emissions from heavy vehicles with electrification. Electricity generated by solar panels will save fuel and carbon emissions. We want to be a partner to count on, and that is enabled by this ground-breaking project.”
The project’s research also looks into the impact of such trucks on the electrical grid, including the possibility of selling excess energy back to the grid, a concept currently limited by legislation.
“We thought we would be able to buy the trucks surplus, unfortunately that is not possible at the moment. But the solar cells becoming part of the truck’s energy supply is fantastic. As an electricity trading company, we see that all renewable energy sources are needed to cope with the energy transition,” says Sverker Ericsson, Electrical Trade Engineer at Dalakraft.
Partially funded by government agency, Vinnova, to develop trucks with low climate impact by using solar energy. The truck is a 560 horsepower plug-in hybrid. On the 18 meter trailer, an area of 100 square meters is covered by thin, lightweight and flexible solar panels with a maximum efficiency of 13,2 kiloWatt peak (kWp). The panels are estimated to deliver 8,000 kilowatt hour (kWh) annually when operated in Sweden. The batteries have a total capacity of 300 kWh, with 100 kWh installed on the truck and 200 kWh on the trailer.
“The whole industry is facing big challenges in general, and with fuel in particular. Electrification from renewable electricity is the future. It makes this project even greater for the green haulage company to be a part of,” says Lars Evertsson, CEO Ernsts Express.
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