11 November 2021

Vehicle-integrated photovoltaics is a development field that is currently gaining further momentum. A team of scientists researching on-board charging of electric commercial vehicles has now demonstrated an electric truck with fully integrated photovoltaics.

In the Lade-PV project, researchers are developing a comprehensive concept that will enable the widespread use of integrated photovoltaic modules on electric vehicles and other commercial vehicles with a load capacity of more than 3.5 tonnes. The research team has now successfully commissioned an e-truck with fully integrated photovoltaics and thus reached a key milestone.

The truck now driving on Germany's roads weighs 18 tonnes. It is equipped with a high-voltage photovoltaic system that supplies the 800 volt traction battery of the commercial vehicle. The solar modules are integrated into the box body of the truck and utilise the entire roof area. The solar power generated covers about five to ten per cent of the vehicle's energy needs. The e-truck serves as a demonstration vehicle that illustrates the practical implementation of the research results. The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, the Fraunhofer Institute for Transportation and Infrastructure Systems IVI and industrial partners have jointly developed the photovoltaic modules and power electronics for integration in commercial vehicles.

The technical acceptance of the e-truck shows that vehicle-integrated photovoltaics can also be used for heavy-duty electric utility vehicles. In the joint project, the e-truck will now also continue to be observed in real operation. The team of scientists will monitor its journeys in the Freiburg area for one year, during which time the team will also validate forecasts regarding the electricity yield and test the components under real-life conditions.

The DC power controller is placed under the truck box.
© Fraunhofer ISE
The DC power controller is placed under the truck box.

The Lade-PV project started in August 2019 and is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi). The results achieved and knowledge gained are intended to contribute to more climate-friendly road freight transport. (av)

Background info: Vehicle-integrated photovoltaics

Vehicle integrated photovoltaics (VIPV) is a field of research that deals with the question of how photovoltaic modules can be integrated into vehicles in the best possible way. This not only involves mechanical and electrical aspects, but also design issues. Photovoltaic modules are usually integrated into vehicles in such a way that they replace the roof or the bonnet, for example. In other words, they should fit as seamlessly as possible into the outer shell of the vehicle so that they can be connected from there to electrical consumers or, in the case of electric vehicles, to their drive batteries. VIPV makes it possible to increase the range of electrically powered vehicles and improve the CO2 balance. It is currently used primarily in electric cars and commercial vehicles.

Among other things, EnArgus, the central information system for energy research funding, contains a database of all energy research projects - including this project.