Vehicle-Integrated Photovoltaics into Trucks

PV integration in an e-truck and a mini e-truck.
© Fraunhofer ISE
PV integration in an e-truck and a mini e-truck.
Integrated PV modules in a truck roof.
© Fraunhofer ISE
Integrated PV modules in a truck roof.
Schematic construction of lightweight module.
© Fraunhofer ISE
Schematic construction of lightweight module.

In utility vehicles (e.g. trucks and buses), particularly light and thin PV modules are needed so that they do not limit the load capacity of the vehicles. The lightweight modules developed at Fraunhofer ISE are particularly well suited for refrigerated trucks with their large roof areas. 

As part of a research project, Fraunhofer ISE equipped several trucks with radiation sen-sors to record the real solar yield potential in the utility vehicle sector. This resulted in an average yield of 150 kWh/m² over the period of one year with a module efficiency of 18%. An electric truck (40t) with a photovoltaic roof area of app. 38 m² could thus travel app. 5000 km per annum on the PV electricity it generated.

Requirements on module integration for trucks:

  • Light and efficient modules 
  • Low installation height
  • High-voltage photovoltaic systems must meet safety requirements from photovoltaic and vehicle standards

Application of the generated solar electricity:

  • Reduction of diesel consumption by usage of electricity generated on the vehicle
  • Reduction of the CO2 emissions from diesel generators for e.g. cooling aggre-gates when vehicles are parked or on the road
  • Air-conditioning of buses and utility vehicles
  • Possible secondary application to thaw ice and snow on truck roofs
  • Power source for electric vans

Our services

  • PV technological consultancy
  • Design and development of prototypes for integrated PV
  • Determination of the solar energy yield for regions or transport routes
  • Module reliability testing
  • Integration into vehicle power supplies (drive unit of electric vehicles, auxiliary batteries)
  • Energy and load management, power electronics and battery  systems
  • Analyses of electricity yield and costs
  • Coordination and management of R&D projects with industrial partners 

Selected Research Projects



The project "Lade-PV" is intended to demonstrate the marketability of PV applications in freight transport.



Solar Potentials of German Traffic Routes

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