A hybrid truck featuring a trailer adorned with solar panels is currently undergoing real-world testing on public roads. This innovative project is the result of a two-year collaborative effort between Scania, Uppsala University, Eksjö Maskin & Truck, Midsummer, Ernsts Express, and Dalakraft. By harnessing solar energy for its power, this truck promises to significantly reduce operational costs and local emissions.
The Scania plug-in hydbrid diesel/electric truck features an 18-meter trailer almost entirely covered in solar panels, equivalent to the power output of solar panels on a typical house. This solar energy extends the hybrid truck’s annual driving range by up to 5,000 kilometers in Sweden. In sunnier climates, such as Spain, the vehicle can double its solar energy intake, thereby further increasing its range compared to Swedish conditions, say the researchers.
“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.
“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.
Furthermore, the project explores tandem solar cells that combine Midsummer’s solar cells with new perovskite solar cells, offering increased efficiency in converting sunlight into electricity. This innovation has the potential to double the energy generation compared to current panel technology.
The solar-powered truck is now undergoing on-road testing by the haulage company Ernsts Express AB. “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.
This pioneering solar-powered truck is a 560-horsepower plug-in hybrid. It boasts an 18-meter trailer equipped with 100 square meters of thin, lightweight, and flexible solar panels, offering a maximum efficiency of 13.2 kWp (kilowatt peak). In Sweden, these panels are estimated to generate 8,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) annually. The vehicle’s batteries have a total capacity of 300kWh, with 100kWh on the truck and 200kWh on the trailer.
This innovation project is partially funded by the government innovation agency Vinnova, with the aim of developing low-impact climate trucks powered by solar energy.