Scania Tests Solar Cell Hybrid Truck

Scania's solar cell truck

writer icon Samuel Christiansen     Dan Boman   |   Sustainability     🕐 08. Oct. 2020

In a research partnership, Scania will develop a solar cell clad trailer to power a plug-in hybrid truck. Initial tests indicate possible fuel savings of 5–10 percent in Sweden and twice that amount in southern Spain.

“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,” said Eric Falkgrim, Technology Leader in Vehicle Design at Scania R&D.

18-metre Solar Cell Clad Trailer
The truck will be operated in daily transport assignments by the Swedish haulier Ernst Express, which also collaborated with Scania in trials of the world’s first electric road with overhead catenary lines.

Ernst Express will operate the 18-metre long solar cell clad trailer with a total area along the sides and roof of 140 square metres. In total, the solar panels are expected to generate 14 000 kWh annually.

The 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.

10 percent Fuel Saving
In a pre-study, operations in mid-Sweden were simulated reaching a potential fuel saving of 5 - 10 percent.

In Sweden, there is enough sunlight from spring to autumn to generate energy. However, during the rest of the year, there is an insufficient amount of sun in Sweden for the solarpanels to have an effect on the hybrid truck. By contrast, southern Spain has 80 percent more hours of sunlight.

The project is publicly funded by 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.

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