Written by Theo Koenig - October 12, 2020
Edited by Asaf Kedem
Scania’s move towards decarbonization continues with their announcement of solar-equipped truck trailers. As of now, the research project is still in its natal state with Enst Express quoted as being the only ones with access to the test trailers. Nevertheless, the partnership offers promising prospects for alternative energy sources.
The 18-meter long trailer is to be mounted with solar cells on the top and sides, offering a total of 140 square meters of surface area. Productivity will naturally depend on geographical location for sun availability. In Sweden, where testing will begin, Scania estimates 14,000 kWh of energy generated annually. This amounts to somewhere between 5% and 10% of fuel savings. However, Eric Falkgrim, technology leader in vehicle design at Scania quotes “twice that amount” could be generated in sun-rich Spain. One of the distinct features of the trailer is that the solar cells can help directly power the actual powertrain, as opposed to other projects designed to feed amenities such as the infotainment system or air conditioning. Further research will also go into examining whether the trailer can feed electricity into a charging grid when the truck is parked, and the batteries are full. Such an application could come in handy when the truck is parked over the weekends, for instance.
The project once again demonstrates Scania’s commitment to the Paris agreement. The announcement comes 2 weeks after Scania won the German Green Truck award for the 4th consecutive time. The prestigious award, in which fuel consumption is the single focus, was won with a Scania truck consuming a remarkable 25 liters/100 km at an average speed 80 km/h. A further testament towards Scania’s sustainability pledge is the Frankfurter A5 electric highway which has been fully operational since early July. Two more areas in Germany are currently being tested.
Auto Trendy’s take:
At Auto Trendy we have mainly focused on plug-in battery and hydrogen-powered technology. While solar powered vehicles have tended to slip through the cracks, we believe this technology is worth examining closer. Given the large and often unused surface areas of truck trailers, this project seems to give a lot without taking much away. Trucks will obviously have to be equipped with batteries to reap the rewards, but with the trend tending towards battery-equipped trucks regardless, there is a lot of opportunity to gain. As with all solar cells, questions will persist regarding maintenance as well as efficiency levels in the winter months. That being said, the applications could be very well suited to sun-rich countries.