Here comes the (value of the) sun

by Truck News

TORONTO, Ont. – The North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE) is showing confidence in the sun as a practical power source for trucks and trailers.

“Fleets should seriously consider investing in solar systems,” the council said this week in the launch of its Solar Confidence Report, the latest in a series of studies that explore fuel-saving technologies and practices.

“The application of solar panels on trailers with extra electrical loads like telematics, refrigeration units, and liftgates make sense as a means of improving battery life and reducing the need for roadside assistance. This is especially true if the trailer spends long periods without being attached to a tractor. And the opportunity to extend the run time of battery HVAC systems makes installing solar for battery HVAC support a good solution,” it said.

Today’s solar panels are flexible, thin, easily installed, and reliable, the report found. Although, potential fuel savings were seen to be “a very small part” of the overall benefit.

The panel installations should be sized for their intended application, NACFE stresses. “For example, the size of a solar panel to support a battery HVAC system on a tractor might be limited by the area available on the tractor fairing, whereas a solar panel to support a refrigeration unit only needs to be large enough to provide a small trickle charge to the refrigeration unit starting battery.”

Still, it’s not yet known if the paybacks will match claims by manufacturers.

“We have verified that the benefits fall in several categories with the biggest benefits being from extending battery life and avoiding emergency roadside assistance for dead batteries. Many fleet users are happy with the investment they made and intend to continue to use solar panels in the future,” the council concludes.

The report comes with a payback calculator to help to evaluate whether a system makes sense.

For more on the use of solar power in Canada’s trucking environment, click here.



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  • One thing is sure the world is changing, our habits are also changing for the better perhaps, the gig these days is let go fully electric, using different methods and let go driverless vehicles.
    Do we really think the petro company will let that go without a say??
    I will never get something electric in car or truck.and more less driver assisting guismo am waiting for the big bang when this planet reconstruct itself and no need to be in a hurry.

  • I think there’s plenty of room for the solar panels on top of trailers and tractors. Taken the opportunity of the sun is greatly appreciated for power. Driverless trucks are not ready for this time frame or the future. There’s way too much traffic and those trucks cannot think for themselves. Man should never be replaced by machines.