Industry & academia co-develop first solar-powered hybrid truck

The two-year research collaboration involving ScaniaUppsala University, Eksjö Maskin & Truck, Midsummer, Ernsts Express and Dalakraft has reached a significant milestone as their unique solar-powered hybrid Scania truck is being tested on public roads.

The research is funded by Sweden's innovation agency, Vinnova, and is aimed to leverage solar technology to develop trucks with low climate impact. The truck being tested is used for researchers to study how much carbon emissions can decrease via solar panels. Researchers also study how these trucks can interact with the power grid two-way when charging/discharging, for the sake of bringing forward new models to analyze these interactions and then for further actions.

Solar-Powered Hybrid Scania Truck
Image: Scania

Technically, the truck is a 560-horsepower plug-in hybrid with 100 m2 of thin, lightweight and flexible solar panels covered on its 18-meter-long trailer. Together, the solar array can reach a maximum power rate of 13.2 kWp and is estimated to produce 8,000 kWh per year when operated under the climate and irradiation conditions in Sweden. A large battery storage capacity totaling 300 kWh is also equipped in the truck, with 100 kWh on the truck and 200 kWh on the trailer, setting the foundation to support optimization for the truck's energy consumption along its way.

According to the research team's assessment, the self-produced solar energy can give the hybrid truck a prolonged driving range of up to 5,000 kilometers annually in Sweden. In countries like Spain, with more sun hours, the vehicle can double the energy output and thus driving range compared to Swedish circumstances. 

"Scania's purpose is to drive the shift towards a sustainable transport system. Never before have solar panels been used to generate energy to a truck's powertrain like we do in this collaboration," said Stas Krupenia, Head of the Research Office at Scania. "It is great to be at the forefront in the development of the next generation's trucks."

"This is an exciting project where academia and industry together try to decrease the climate impact from truck transports. The results from this unique truck will be very interesting," voiced Erik Johansson, Project Manager and Professor of physical chemistry at Uppsala University.

As a Sweden-based leading thin-film technology company, Midsummer and its thin-film technology play a key role in this research project. The company works on the development and improvement of perovskite-(CIGS) thin-film tandem solar panels for the truck. These panels feature higher adaptability on the trailer surface, higher durability and higher conversion efficiency.

"Our solar panels are excellent for applications that make commercial vehicles sustainable. We see great potential to decrease the emissions from heavy vehicles with electrification," said Erik Olsson, Head of Corporate Development at Midsummer.

Over recent years, the pace of decarbonizing the transportation system has quickened, largely due to advances in solar technology. Before the advent of this solar-powered truck, solar-powered cars and metro lines had already become a reality.

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