The transportation and trucking industry accounts for a third of the United States' energy consumption. And in the last half-decade, the industry has been trying hard to balance the need to accommodate the demand for travel and transportation while keeping fuel consumption at the minimum. Fortunately, there may be a way forward in reducing fuel consumption, thanks to solar-powered semi-trucks and other electric vehicles.
Electricity is the fast-rising technology in transportation these days as more companies pour funds into fuel-less vehicles' research and development. The trucking industry will likely be leading the way for greater use of this technology.
Carriers Have Been Using Solar-Powered Vehicles For Some Time Now
Plenty of Americans have been procuring fully electric or hybrid-engine vehicles for years now. Unfortunately, solar-powered vehicles' growth has been hampered by the relatively short battery life and lack of charging facilities. The problem lies with battery management issues, high sticker prices, and reported torque and power performance challenges for hybrid electric vehicles.
Big truck operators have avoided electric-powered vehicles because of the reasons mentioned above. It was only in recent years when a small number of truck companies had a better appreciation of electric-powered trucks' many benefits.
The Benefits of Solar-Powered Trucks
The North American Council for Freight Efficiency or NACFE studied the benefits of solar panel installation in trucks. According to the NACFE research, solar panels specially designed for the trucking industry are lightweight, thin, flexible, and capable of being attached to the tractor fairing curves. It also noted there is a growing consensus among managers that solar panels are better options as the primary truck batteries are no longer suited for the industry's needs, given the higher demand for driver comfort and new rules on idling reduction.
NACFE has outlined the benefits of using power for solar trucks
Reduction of Idling- The solar power system helps minimize the idling of engines while parked, resulting in fuel savings.
Minimize Jump-Starts- Solar power reduces the calls for roadside assistance for jumpstarting trucks. The solar power keeps the batteries charged, thus reducing the inconvenience and costs of both unplanned downtimes and jumpstarting.
Battery Life- Having solar power helps extend the life of either the auxiliary of main batteries.
Offers Driver Convenience- Having a refrigerator in trucks means added work for truck drivers. But with a solar system, the work is easier as it helps in eliminating the reloading and unloading of refrigerators during weekends and resets. Reducing the workload of drivers also helps in driver retention.
Cost Savings Could Be Key in Wider Adoption of the Technology
Electric trucks tend to have higher upfront costs. However, truck owners and operators should look beyond the initial figures and pay close attention to the fuel cost savings. The fuel cost savings can offset the higher price tag and associated financing costs of solar-powered vehicles in the long-run.
As the world grapples with reducing the carbon footprint to save the environment, it bodes well for the trucking and transportation industry to pave the way in adopting an affordable, sustainable, practical fuel-related technology. More so since global solar power technology prices have been falling in recent years. Electric vehicles powered by the sun is the way to move forward to reduce reliance on traditional fuel, achieve higher cost savings, and be more environmentally friendly.