Let the sun shine

July 28, 2017
When most people think of solar power they think of it as a renewable energy solution for homes, office buildings or airports.  We see these panels springing up all over our country. But solar also has a place in the trucking industry. Solar panels added to trucks can capture energy from the sun — free energy I might add — and convert it into usable power.

When most people think of solar power they think of it as a renewable energy solution for homes, office buildings or airports.  We see these panels springing up all over our country.

But solar also has a place in the trucking industry. Solar panels added to trucks can capture energy from the sun — free energy I might add — and convert it into usable power.

Trucks can use this clean renewable energy “to reduce the power from the alternator or standalone diesel generator systems saving fuel and reducing greenhouse gases,” says eNow, manufacturer of a proprietary solar panel system.

Fleets are beginning to see value in adding solar panels as part of their fuel efficiency efforts. In fact two fleets — US Xpress and Mesilla Valley Transportation — that are taking part in Run on Less will have solar panels on their trucks throughout the Run.

They believe that solar makes sense as part of their overall efforts to operate as efficiently as possible.  Also, solar’s time for trucking may have come as the quality, cost and performance of the panels have improved in recent years, while energy demand for the hoteling needs on these sleeper tractors increase. 

eNow has a calculator on its website to help trucking companies measure their savings–in terms of reduced idling, battery power, and fuel costs–using solar panels, and other manufacturers are active creating solutions for the trucking industry.

Just like other technologies, solar power is not right for every fleet. But you will never know if it’s right for your specific operation until you start doing some research into how it works and in which types of applications it’s most successful.

Make sure to follow the trucks in Run on Less who have opted for solar power. That’s a good first step in your being able to make an informed choice.

About the Author

Michael Roeth | Executive Director

Michael Roeth has worked in the commercial vehicle industry for nearly 30 years, most recently as executive director of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE). He serves on the second National Academy of Sciences Committee on Technologies and Approaches for Reducing the Fuel Consumption of Medium and Heavy-Duty Vehicles and has held various positions in engineering, quality, sales, and plant management with Navistar and Behr/Cummins.

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