Rhenus assesses potential of solar powered delivery vans

European logistics company The Rhenus Group is testing just how much energy could be captured by placing solar panels on its vehicles. The test, involving sensors placed on a fossil fuelled vehicle, is taking place over a year or so on a vehicle operating around Germany.

The aim of the trial, in conjunction with Sono Motors, is to assess to what degree solar arrays on delivery vehicles could extend their range. If the results are promising so the delivery company would look into solar-supported fully electric vehicles.

The trial will take place across all four seasons ranging from full sun in summer to grey winter days to obtain realistic average figures. Illumination sensors on both sides and the roof of the 15-tonne vehicle will measure the intensity of solar radiation to assess just how much electricity could be garnered from such as system. The radiation measurements and exact times of each will be sent to Sonos Motors who will process the data.

Jonas von Frieling, Head of Innovation Hub for the Rhenus Home Delivery and Rhenus High Tec business divisions, explains, “Rhenus and Sono Motors are two companies that are full of innovative capability and vigour and so they’re a perfect match for such a forward-looking project.”

Rhenus Home Delivery are already electrifying their fleet but the new trial will assess the potential of taking less energy from the grid and to push the leading edge of alternative fuelled vehicles even further.

“If we’re going to switch to electric drive systems across the board, the supply systems needs to grow in line with this. Solar cells on vehicles could ease the pressure on the electricity grid. We’re pressing ahead with our test project as a pioneer here,” says Jonas von Frieling.

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