A groundbreaking hybrid truck, fitted with solar panels across its trailer, is under testing on public highways. This cutting-edge vehicle is the product of a two-year research collaboration involving Scania, Uppsala University, Eksjö Maskin & Truck, Midsummer, Ernsts Express, and Dalakraft. The solar power generated by the truck significantly reduces operating costs and local emissions.
Stas Krupenia, Head of the Research Office at Scania, expressed excitement about the project’s potential for sustainability in transport: “Our aim at Scania is to lead the transition towards a sustainable transport system. This unique usage of solar panels to power a truck is a significant step in reducing emissions in the transportation sector.”
The research project aims to study the amount of solar energy generated and the corresponding decrease in carbon emissions. The researchers also aim to understand how trucks can interact with the power grid and predict outcomes if multiple such trucks are connected to it.
“The collaboration of academia and industry in this project is truly exciting. We are eager to see the results from this unique truck,” says Professor Erik Johansson of Uppsala University.
The truck’s 18-metre trailer is almost completely covered with solar panels, allowing for an extended driving range of up to 5,000 kilometers annually in Sweden. In sunnier countries like Spain, the solar energy and driving range could potentially double.
The project also explores lightweight tandem solar cells that combine Midsummer’s solar cells and new perovskite solar cells. These cells have a higher efficiency in converting sunlight to electricity, potentially doubling the current energy generation.
Erik Olsson, Head of Corporate Development at Midsummer, believes that their solar panels are well suited for commercial vehicles: “We envision a significant reduction in heavy vehicle emissions through electrification powered by solar panels.”
The project also examined the potential impact of charging on the electricity grid and the possibility of selling excess energy. However, Sverker Ericsson from Dalakraft noted that legislation is currently unclear on this issue.
The truck will now be operated on public roads by Ernsts Express AB. The hybrid vehicle is a 560 horsepower plug-in hybrid with an 18-metre trailer covered by 100 square meters of flexible solar panels. The batteries have a total capacity of 300 kWh, allowing the vehicle to deliver an estimated 8,000 kilowatt-hour (kWh) annually when operated in Sweden. The project was partly funded by government innovation agency Vinnova.