SCANIA is testing a 560hp hybrid-electric truck powered by a trailer covered in solar photovoltaic (PV) panels that can give up to an additional 10,000km of driving range.

It is the first time that this system has been used to assist the production of power for a heavy-duty truck.

The test is being done on public roads in Sweden by Scania, Uppsala University and collaborators and follows two years of research into the concept’s feasibility.

Scania said that the solar energy produced decreases operational costs and emissions significantly because of the self-producing energy.

The truck is used in a research project to examine the generated solar energy, and how much carbon emissions decrease via the solar panels. The researchers developed new, efficient, and lightweight solar panels for trucks.

They also study how trucks can interact with the power grid, and bring forward new models for what will happen if several trucks like this one are connected to the power grid. The truck’s 18-metre trailer is almost completely covered in solar panels, equivalent to a house equipped with similarly powerful panels.

The solar energy gives the hybrid truck a prolonged driving range of up to 5000km annually in Sweden. In countries like Spain, with more sun hours, the vehicle can double the amount of solar energy and thus driving range compared to Swedish circumstances. The project also includes researched on new, lightweight tandem solar cells, that are based on a combination of Midsummer’s solar cells and new perovskite solar cells.

These enable a higher efficiency in the transformation of sunlight to electricity. Such a solution could double the solar energy generation, compared to the current energy generated by the panels. We see great potential to decrease the emissions from heavy vehicles with electrification. Electricity generated by solar panels will save fuel and carbon emissions,” said Midsummer’s head of corporate development Erik Olsson of the high-efficiency, lightweight solar panels.

The CEO of Swedish truck and trailer retailer Eksjö Maskin & Truck, Daniel Sandh, said: ”The fuel is presently an increasing cost for haulage companies, and everything we can contribute with to lower this cost will benefit the society long-term.” One part of the project is also to evaluate the ability to sell the surplus electricity back to the grid.

The truck will now be tested by operating on public roads by the haulage company Ernsts Express AB.

The tuck’s specifications include its 560hp plug-in hybrid powerplant. On the 18-metre trailer, an area of 100 square meters is covered by thin, lightweight and flexible solar panels with a maximum efficiency of 13,2 kWp (kilowatt peak).

They are estimated to deliver 8000 kilowatt hour (kWh) annually when operated in Sweden (and potentially twice as much in a county such as Spain). The batteries have a total capacity of 300 kWh, with 100 kWh on the truck and 200 kWh on the trailer.

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