what just happened Swedish truck maker Scania unveiled a unique hybrid solar-powered truck last week. The vehicle is currently being tested on public roads in Sweden as part of a two-year research collaboration between Scania, Uppsala University, Eksjö Maskin & Truck, Midsummer, Ernsts Express and Dalakraft.
In one press releaseAccording to the company, the plug-in hybrid truck features a 560-horsepower engine and an 18-meter trailer covered with new lightweight tandem solar panels that generate the vehicle’s electric propulsion. More than 100 square meters of space on the trailer is covered by solar panels, which include Midsummer’s new perovskite solar cells, which are said to generate twice as much energy as conventional solar cells. Scania claims this is the first time a truck of this size has been powered by electricity from solar panels.
The truck is part of a research project aimed at developing solar-powered trucks with a low climate impact and is partially funded by the Swedish government agency for innovation, Vinnova. To that end, it will help researchers study the environmental impact of renewable energy vehicles and how they can reduce overall CO2 emissions in the transport sector.
According to Scania, the solar cells in the truck achieve a maximum efficiency of 13.2 kWp (kilowatt peak). For those who are wondering: the vehicle has a total of 300 kWh of batteries on board, of which 100 kWh are in the truck and 200 kWh in the trailer. Scania claims that the solar energy generated by these modules can provide an annual range of up to 5,000 km in Sweden, but that range could even double to around 10,000 km in sunnier countries like Spain.
When asked why the project is focusing on Sweden even though the country is not known for year-round sunshine, Eric Falkgrim, head of technology in Scania’s research and innovation department and project manager for the solar-powered truck, replied that the company particularly wanted feasibility of such a project under the less sunny and slightly darker conditions in Scandinavia.
The use of solar energy in automobiles is still a long way from becoming mainstream, but when it does, automobile emissions are expected to drop significantly. Today, the vast majority of vehicles on our roads are equipped with internal combustion engines that use fossil fuels to generate electricity. Even electric vehicles get their power from conventional sources, which often include thermal energy from burning coal. In addition to protecting the environment, electrification from renewable energies could also significantly reduce fuel costs, which have been rising steadily in recent years.