Vehicle-Integrated Photovoltaics into Trucks

Schematic construction of a PV truck roof.
© Fraunhofer ISE

Schematic construction of a PV truck roof.

Artist’s impression of a PV truck roof.
© Fraunhofer ISE

Artist’s impression of a PV truck roof.

In utility vehicles (e.g. trucks and buses), particularly light and thin PV modules are need-ed so that they do not limit the load capacity. The lightweight modules developed at Fraunhofer ISE are particularly well suited for refrigerated trucks with their large roof areas. The solar cells can be laminated onto an insulating panel or added to existing structures.

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. An average elec-tricity yield of 150 kWh/m² over the course of a year was determined. 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 
  • thin
  • resistant to dynamic mechanical loads

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 for vehicle-integrated PV

  • 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