Scania exams out solar panel-covered plug-in tractor-trailer
While other large truck companies are studying fuel cells and electrics with massive batteries, Scania is experimenting with the possibility of solarized plug-in hybrid trucks. As the “hybrid” part makes clear, the solar panels cannot power the entire trip – or anywhere close by – but Scania believes its trailer decorated with solar panels can save anywhere from 5 to 20 percent in fuel, depending on demand and when it’s on the way.
The last time we saw a vehicle covered in solar panels like Scania’s trailer, it was just a concept – the solarized motorhome Dethleffs e.home 2017. Scania hopes its design will go beyond the concept phase and get measurable performance in the real world can deliver. It includes a 18 m long trailer with 140 m² solar panels on the roof and on the sides. The Swedish shipping company Ernst Express will couple the trailer with a plug-in hybrid tractor from Scania and use it for daily operations to test its effectiveness.
According to Scania, estimates before the test show that the solar trailer in operation in Sweden can offer fuel savings of 5 to 10 percent between spring and autumn. It admits that the Swedish winter doesn’t produce enough sunlight to allow solar charging, but envisions the system being used in sunnier locations as well. If deployed in southern Spain, for example, the setup could double its fuel-saving benefits, the company said.
Scania expects the trailer to generate up to 14,000 kWh per year in Sweden. In cooperation with Ernst, it is checked whether the trailer can effectively generate enough energy to get back into the grid with a full battery and parked truck.
Scania and Ernst Express previously worked together on the 2016 Swedish electric highway project. The two companies are supported in the current project by the solar module company Midsummer, the energy supplier Dalakraft and the University of Uppsala. Funding is provided by the Swedish innovation agency Vinnova.