Scania launches solar powered truck trials

Commercial Motor
September 6, 2023


As part of an energy research project into lowering costs and emissions, Scania has started trials with a solar powered truck. The vehicle has a 560hp plug-in hybrid engine which is paired with an 18m trailer covered in 100sq m of solar panels. It’s estimated this solar energy will provide an additional annual range of up to 5,000km in Sweden. This figure could conceivably double for vehicles operating in sunny countries like Spain. 

Stas Krupenia, head of the research office at Scania AB said: “Never before have solar panels been used to generate energy to power a truck. This natural energy source can significantly decrease emissions in the transport sector. And it is great to be at the forefront in the development of the next generation’s trucks.”

Haulier Ernsts Express AB will test the truck on public roads. Lars Evertsson, CEO at Ernsts Express said: “The whole industry is facing big challenges in general, especially with the cost of fuels. Electrification from renewable electricity is the future.”

The two-year experiment was launched in collaboration with Uppsala University, Eksjö Maskin & Truck, Midsummer and Dalakraft. Erik Johansson, project manager and professor of physical chemistry at Uppsala University said: “This is an exciting project where academia and industry together try to decrease the climate impact from transportation. Our research towards efficient and light solar cells will be truly important, especially when it comes to applying them in future trucks.”

Midsummer has provided its lightweight perovskite solar cells for the trailer which are said to allow double the energy generation compared to traditional solar technology. Erik Olsson, head of corporate development at Midsummer, added: “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 solar panels provide a maximum efficiency of 13.2kWp (kilowatt peak) to recharge the 100kWh battery in the truck and the 200kWh one in the trailer. Data gathered from energy generated will be used to establish the overall reduction in carbon emissions. 

Outside of the truck’s operational hours, the project is also analysing the impact of connecting solar powered vehicles to the grid. Sverker Ericsson, electrical trade engineer at Dalakraf said: "We thought we would be able to buy the truck’s surplus energy, 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 all renewable energy sources are needed to cope with the energy transition.”

This research project is partly funded by the Swedish government agency for innovation, Vinnova, focusing on sustainable solutions. Daniel Sandh, CEO Eksjö Maskin & Truck, reckoned: “Fuel is currently an increasing cost for haulage companies, and everything we can contribute with to lower this cost will benefit society long-term.”

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