Solar power from the roof of a truck

Cars, vans and trucks with integrated solar cells can make transport more climate-friendly. A team of scientists has now developed an electric truck powered by solar energy from its own roof.

Truck with integrated solar cells© Fraunhofer ISE

Trending: solar modules for vehicles

Vehicle-integrated photovoltaics (VIPV) is a field of study investigating how best to build solar modules into different types of vehicles. The search for the best installation solution reaches well beyond mechanical and electrical details: a major role is also played by design, particularly when it comes to cars.

VIPV is already in use on many caravans, campervans and boats. The electricity generated is used to support the battery powering auxiliary equipment.

The team of scientists of the “Lade-PV” (“PV charging”) project is studying the field of electrically powered commercial vehicles and has developed an eTruck with fully integrated PV. The 18-tonne truck produced by the researchers represents a genuine milestone: The necessary PV modules for the generation of solar power are integrated into the box body. This means that the entire surface of the vehicle’s roof can be used. The truck is equipped with a high-voltage PV system, and the solar power generated is fed into its traction battery. It covers roughly five to ten per cent of the vehicle’s energy needs.

In the project, the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, the Fraunhofer Institute for Transportation and Infrastructure Systems IVI and industrial partners have developed both the PV modules and the power electronics in order to integrate them into commercial vehicles. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action is providing some €2.6 million to assist the project.