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According to various statistics, an average truck emits around 130 grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) per kilometer. However, this value could be substantially reduced by equipping these vehicles with solar panels. About 6,000 kilograms of CO2 and €2,500 in fuel costs could be saved per year by installing solar panels on the roofs of trucks or trailers. Dutch start-up IM Efficiency, manufacturer of  SolarOnTop, is already working on the final practical test.

Long-distance tests conducted so far have shown that up to 5.5 % of fuel costs can be saved. By using solar panels that are only a few millimeters thick. Which means that they’re quite insignificant in terms of weight. In addition, maintenance costs are also lower because SolarOnTop reduces wear and tear, according to the manufacturer.

“Depending on the type of journey and vehicle, this could mean a saving of €2,500 per year in our climate,” co-founder Martijn lldiz sates. He based this figure on the long-distance tests that they’ve held. “This is because the alternator no longer needs to generate electricity to power the truck’s equipment. We are consequently making a significant contribution to making the transport sector more sustainable. Approximately six metric tons of CO2 per truck. This investment pays for itself in less than three years.”

Four-month long practical test

The final practical test is scheduled to start in June 2020. It will be carried out in cooperation with several companies. these include Vos Logistics from Oss and the Emons Group from Milsbeek, both based in The Netherlands. It’s scheduled to run for four months. The aim of this cooperation is “to collect data for the manufacture and certification of SolarOnTop.” IM Efficiency wants to foster cooperation with partners from the automobile sector as well. In order to do this, the company is relocating its research and development activities to the Automotive Campus in Helmond, also in the Netherlands.

The project is being financed by, among others, BOM Brabant Ventures. They are investing in the certification and market and production readiness of SolarOnTop together with a major logistics company and a Belgian investor. “IM Efficiency fits in nicely with our goal of making Brabant energy neutral,” says Marc de Haas. He’s the business developer at BOM Brabant Ventures. “At least as important is the company’s added value to the Brabant ecosystem. We are international leaders in the development of sustainable, smart mobility. Mutual cooperation will only strengthen this leading position in the world.”

Investors from The Netherlands and Belgium were attracted by the commercial launch of SolarOnTop, IM Efficiency explains. Additionally, the company expects to supply around 4,000 trailers with solar panels in the Benelux in the near future.