Switching from gas-powered cars to electric vehicles is a crucial aspect of the transition toward renewable energy. However, to make a truly significant impact, the electricity used to power these next-generation cars must come from entirely green sources.
Unfortunately, the current power grid is still far from achieving this goal. One potential solution to bridge this gap is solar cars.
Several solar cars are already in production. These range from affordable options like the Squad car, priced at $6,800, to the sleek and expensive Lightyear 0, priced at $250,000. Other solar cars on the market include the OG Aptera and the Sion.
Building upon this solar concept, a Swedish manufacturer is taking it to a larger scale—a big-rig scale, to be precise. Scania, the manufacturer, recently tested its hybrid solar truck on public roads for the first time.
This new hybrid solar truck is a research project that involves collaboration between academia and industry. The truck has the potential to reduce the environmental impact of the trucking industry. It can also cut fuel costs for drivers and reduce the overall expenses of transporting goods.
Hybrid solar vehicles have rechargeable batteries, but they also come equipped with solar arrays that serve as an alternative energy source. Scania’s truck features solar panels covering 100 square meters (1,076 square feet) on the sides and top of its 59-foot-long trailer. These panels were specially designed for this project and are more lightweight and efficient compared to the current industry standard.
According to Singularity Hub, the Scania truck is powered by a 560 horsepower engine. Its solar array can generate up to 8,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy per year in Sweden. This amount of energy is equivalent to driving around 5,000 kilometers (3,107 miles).
Since Sweden is not known for its abundant sunshine, the researchers estimate that in sunnier climates like Spain, the driving range could double, reaching approximately 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles) annually.
The team is further working on developing tandem solar cells with even higher efficiency, which could potentially double the solar energy generation once again. As for the truck’s batteries, they have a total capacity of 300 kWh. 100 kWh of capacity are placed on the truck and the remaining 200 kWh are placed on the trailer.
The research team is assessing the solar energy production capabilities of the truck’s panels under different conditions. Researchers are also studying how the Scania truck can reduce carbon emissions and contribute surplus energy back to the grid. Lastly, the project team is investigating the potential impact on the power grid in a future where there are numerous hybrid solar trucks.
It will likely take some time before we witness the presence of big rigs adorned with solar panels on highways. One of the reasons is that solar technology needs significant improvement before it becomes feasible for widespread use in cars and trucks.
Nevertheless, projects like Scania’s serve as a starting point, guiding us toward a future of cleaner and more environmentally friendly transportation.
Image Source: Nicklas, https://shorturl.at/bEV19