A two-year research collaboration is testing a new 560-horsepower plug-in hybrid truck with a solar panel covered trailer. The collaboration included Scania, Uppsala University, Eksjo Maskin & Truck, Midsummer, Ernsts Express, and Dalakraft, and funding was provided by Vinnova, a government agency.
The truck will be tested on public roads by Ernsts Express, and the collaboration will examine the solar energy generated by the lightweight solar panels, the subsequent reduction in carbon emissions, and the truck’s interaction with the power grid.
"Scania's purpose is to drive the shift towards a sustainable transport system,” said Stas Krupenia, Head of the Research Office at Scania. “Never before have solar panels been used to generate energy to a truck's powertrain like we do in this collaboration to significantly decrease emissions in the transport sector.”
On the 18-meter trailer, an area of 100 square meters is completely covered in solar panels, equivalent to a house equipped with similar panels and a maximum efficiency of 13.2 kWp. While the truck’s batteries have a total capacity of 300 kWh, with 100 kWh on the truck and 200 kWh on the trailer, the solar panels are estimated to deliver 8,000 kWh annually.
The solar energy helps the hybrid truck to deliver a driving range of up to 5,000 km annually in Sweden, while in countries like Spain, the vehicle can double the amount of solar energy as well as the driving range.
The project also included research on new, lightweight tandem solar cells based on a combination of Midsummer's solar cells and new perovskite solar cells, which help increase efficiency when transforming sunlight into electricity. The solution can double the solar energy generation as compared to the current energy generated by the panels.
"Our solar panels are excellent for applications that make commercial vehicles sustainable,” said Erik Olsson, Head of Corporate Development, Midsummer. “We see great potential to decrease the emissions from heavy vehicles with electrification, and electricity generated by solar panels will save fuel and carbon emissions.”
The project also included an evaluation of the charging's impact on the electricity grid and whether selling the surplus is possible. The legislation for two-way charging is still unclear.