E-vehicles powered by the sun

E-vehicles powered by the sun

A photovoltaic system being trialled at Scania’s headquarters in Södertälje, Sweden, is adding to the company’s knowledge of renewable energy.

Solar panels were installed on the roof of Building 015 at Scania’s headquarters in Södertälje, Sweden, last summer. The 46 panels on top of the building, which is also known as Karpen (the Carp), are divided into three sections, with each panel rated at 135 W.

“The solar panels have been installed to help us learn what the technology means and what it can provide from a sustainability perspective,” says Roland Dahlström, Manager at Scania Industrial Maintenance. “It’s also a way of showing the company’s energy awareness.”

Roland Dahlström

Roland Dahlström analyses data from the solar panels in building 015 in Södertälje.Photo: Kjell Olausson 2015

The installation features the latest technology. While outwardly the installation resembles others erected over the past 20 years, the performance of the materials, components, and the technology used in such arrays now performs significantly better. Each solar panel, for example, is an independent unit, which means that both troubleshooting and analysis of data can be efficiently handled via software. It’s also possible to use an app to monitor in real time the amount of energy produced.

Because this is a pilot project, it’s important to undertake ongoing evaluation, and over the coming year the focus will be on improving the company’s knowledge of the technology through practical use.
The solar facility has an installed efficiency of 6 kW and is expected to generate 5,238 kWh per year. This corresponds to the annual energy use of the four electric cars used by workers in the building.

The total CO2 reduction provided is 300kg per year. In the near future, a sign on the building’s northern facade will allow everyone to follow energy production.

E vehicles powered by the sun

One of Scania Industrial Maintenance’s electric cars being charged.Photo: Kjell Olausson 2015

“We have four VW e-Up electric cars that are used for transport by our project engineers for journeys to and from pulse meetings, project meetings and so on in the area,” says Dahlström. ”Each vehicle covers about 10,000 kilometres a year. The fact that the cars’ energy use is covered by the solar panels’ annual electricity production makes us completely climate neutral in this case.”

E vehicles powered by the sun

The charging facility in building 015 in Södertälje.Photo: Kjell Olausson 2015

The solar panels are also a focus for five students studying for Master of Science degrees in Energy, Environment and Management at Linköping University and who have embarked on two projects for Scania. The students are undertaking the projects under the supervision of Scania’s Industrial Maintenance division as a part of their final term of study. The focus is partly on operational and maintenance problems with existing solar panels, but also on how, through the use of innovation, solar panels can be integrated into the structure of buildings during construction.

“It’s a win-win situation,” says Dahlström. “Students often lack concrete cases for their project work, and because we are so resource efficient we can seldom devote time to this kind of in-depth evaluation.”

Once the project has been evaluated and the students complete their assignments, the results could lead the way for future building-integrated solar panel solutions within Scania. However, the technology needs to be improved further before tomorrow’s e-driven buses can be charged with solar energy on a large scale.