February 26, 2020 - We, the Emons Group, are closely monitoring the developments related to the Covid-19 (Coronavirus disease) situation which might be effecting our transport activities. At this moment, the... Read more »
The Dutch Association for Transport and Logistics (TLN) is the largest and most prominent lobby organisation in the Dutch road transport and logistics sector. Every month their magazine is published: TLN Magazine. last month the (translated out of Dutch) article could be read:
IM EFFICIENCY COVERS EMONS TRAILERS WITH SOLAR PANELS
Solar farm on wheels
Various Emons trailers have recently been enhanced with a rooftop solar panel system by start-up IM Efficiency. This prevents idling engines just to generate power. Great for the environment, and great for operating costs.
Even for modern trucks, the electric power supply is a backward area, says Rogér Reiniers, director Research and Development at the Emons Group in Milsbeek. “Engines are increasingly getting cleaner and economical, but manufacturers seem to be paying little attention to the increased energy usage inside the cabin.”
As long as the truck keeps driving, the power supply runs smoothly. But fuel consumption does go up, leading to higher emissions. The increased energy usage also causes a different issue when the truck is stationary. And for international transport, those stationary hours exceed the hours on the road. The driver spends the night inside the cabin, uses his laptop, a microwave and possibly a stationary ACU. “Standard batteries then quickly deplete”, says Reiniers.
“A driver mindful of his energy usage will idle his engine to charge the battery and prevent starting problems. Leaving a 500 hp engine running just to charge a battery isn't an efficient and sustainable solution”. Together, IM Efficiency and Emons came up with a far superior answer.
Several years ago, IM Efficiency contacted Emons and offered to lower the company's fuel consumption by installing solar panels on top of the trailers. IM Efficiency was founded four years ago and focuses on solar power capabilities.
A first prototype was built in 2016 and with a radical optimisation of the control of electricity, the technology has now been developed to such an extent that significant savings can be achieved.
“IM Efficiency promised us considerable fuel savings and sustainability. No matter the generation of engine, Euro 3, 4, 5 or 6, all the unnecessary idling leads to needless emissions. And for us, it's not just the energy usage inside the cabin”, Reiniers emphasizes. “We use double decker trailers and glass trailers with powered hydraulic systems. Solar power helps there, too.”
Are there no drawbacks to installing trailer roof panels in terms of maximum height? Reiniers isn't worried: “You shouldn't compare these to the solar panels you see on the roofs of buildings. These are solar cells on foil with a thickness of just a couple of millimetres. Weight is not an issue either. The foil is very light.
Costs could be a deterrent, but keep in mind that the payback period keeps getting shorter as the solar cell foil becomes more efficient. The calculations work in our favour already.”
Aside from the solar foil, the batteries are becoming more efficient, too. IM Efficiency uses lithium battery systems. “We're not at that stage yet, but you could imagine that in the short term, we can use these solar panels to start providing energy to the grid. If the trailer is parked somewhere during the weekend, I don't see why that couldn't happen. Our trailers then become solar farms on wheels.”
1. "Leaving a 500 hp engine running just to charge a battery isn't an efficient and sustainable solution."