Scania will develop a solar cell clad trailer to power a plug-in hybrid truck as a result of a new research partnership, with test indicating possible fuel savings of 5-10% in Sweden and twice that figure in sun-drenched southern Spain.
Scania Developing Solar Cell Clad Trailers
The truck will be operated through daily assignments with Ernst Express, the Swedish hauler, in the trial of the world’s first electric road with overhead catenary lines. The 18-meter long solar cell clad trailer will have a total area, including sides and roof of 140 square meters, with the solar panels expected to generate an annual total of 14,000 kWh in Sweden.
“Solar cells have previously been employed on boats and caravans but then only to power auxiliaries such as refrigerators and cookers and not the actual powertrain,” says Eric Falkgrim, Technology Leader in Vehicle Design at Scania R&D.
This research project will also examine whether the trailer can feed electricity into the grid when the batteries are fully charged and the truck is parked, for example, over weekends.
In a pre-study, it was discovered that in Sweden, there is enough sunlight from spring to autumn to generate energy and although the sun is weak except during summer, there are more hours of sunlight, whereas southern Spain has sun during the whole year and has 80 percent more hours of sunlight.
The project is publicly funded through the Swedish government’s innovation agency Vinnova and aside from Scania and Ernst Express also engages Midsummer that manufactures the solar panels, Uppsala University, which conducts advanced research on more efficient solar cells, and the Dalakraft energy company.