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Trucks provide lots of area with great sun exposure and electric-drive vehicles are equipped with large batteries.

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Six percent of all CO2 emissions in the EU are caused by heavy goods vehicles, but if they produced their own solar power, this balance could be improved by a significant 5 to 7 percent. A consortium led by The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) will therefore investigate ways that electric heavy-load (over 3.5 tonnes) vehicles can generate power via on-board PV systems. The ultimate goal of the “Lade-PV” project is to demonstrate the commercial viability of PV applications for transportation lorries.

“Trucks provide lots of area with great sun exposure and electric-drive vehicles are equipped with large batteries. This combination presents an ideal situation for generating valuable on-board electricity,” explains Dr Harry Wirth, who is leading the project at the ISE, in a release.

The new PV units will be designed for both retrofitting and integrating fully into the bodies of new trucks. The weight of the units – which must be vibration-proof, resistant to shear and warping and easy to install – will be a critical (no more than 2.6 kilograms per square meter). An innovative concept for lightweight VIPV modules is being developed by the company Sunset Energiekonzept and the prototypes will be integrated into the bodywork of new vehicles made by TBV Kühlfahrzeuge.

On the retrofitting side, M&P Motion Control will be testing suitable materials including high frequency power electronic components and new semi-conductor materials towards a more compact design.

Meanwhile, The Fraunhofer Institute for Transportation and Infrastructure Systems (IVI) will be working on energy forecasting for the truck to project factors like driving range, loading periods and electricity levels. “We not only want to develop the technology, but also demonstrate that trucks can use onboard PV to meet over five percent of their energy demand. Calculations show that 4–6,000 kilometres additional driving range per year are possible,” says Christoph Kutter, project head at Fraunhofer ISE.