A unique hybrid truck with a solar panel covered trailer is being tested on public roads, as a result of a two-year research collaboration involving Scania, Uppsala University, Eksjö Maskin & Truck, Midsummer, Ernsts Express, and Dalakraft.

The truck is a 560 hp plug-in hybrid. On the 18-metre trailer, an area of 100m2 is covered by thin, lightweight and flexible solar panels with a maximum efficiency of 13.2 kWp (kilowatt peak). They are estimated to deliver 8,000 kWh annually when operated in Sweden. The batteries have a total capacity of 300 kWh, with 100 kWh on the truck and 200 kWh on the trailer.

The project also includes research on new, lightweight tandem solar cells, that are based on a combination of Midsummer’s solar cells and new perovskite solar cells. These enable a higher efficiency in the transformation of sunlight to electricity.

“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. This natural energy source can significantly decrease emissions in the transport sector. It is great to be at the forefront in developing the next generation’s trucks,” says Stas Krupenia, Head of the Research Office at Scania.

The truck is used in a research project to examine the generated solar energy and how much carbon emissions decrease via the solar panels. The researchers developed new, efficient, and lightweight solar panels for trucks. They also study how trucks can interact with the power grid and bring forward new models for what will happen if several trucks like this one are connected to the power grid.

One part of the project was to evaluate the impact on the electricity grid and whether it would be possible to sell the surplus. The possibility of two-way charging is not entirely straightforward, and the legislation is unclear.

“We thought we could buy the trucks surplus, unfortunately, that is not possible at the moment. But the solar cells becoming part of the truck’s energy supply is fantastic. As an electricity trading company, we see that all renewable energy sources are needed to cope with the energy transition,” says Sverker Ericsson, Electrical Trade Engineer at Dalakraft.