SolarOnTop: a milestone for sustainable transport

SolarOnTop, an innovation by IM Efficiency, truly is a step forward in making transport more sustainable. The photovoltaic system supplies trucks with green electricity from solar panels.

In order to reach a climate-neutral European economy by 2030, the decarbonization of road freight vehicles can potentially have a major impact. For Vos Logistics, one of the leading logistics service providers in The Netherlands, sustainability is one of their mission’s and vision’s spear points, which is why Vos Logistics embraces developments like SolarOnTop.

In an earlier pilot, Gehlen Schols Logistics, which has become part of Vos Logistics in 2018, gained positive results from SolarOnTop. In September 2020, the solar panels were also installed on top of one of the Vos Logistics trailers. The trailer will be driven by an LNG truck. The CO2 savings of a combination of these two has not been measured earlier.

Practically speaking, the electricity generated by the solar panels is used for all electric appliances of the vehicle. The SolarOnTop supplies clean electricity to the truck and trailer, compensating the electricity that is normally generated by the alternator. This reduces the load on the engine, saving fuel while the vehicle is driving. While the driver is resting in the cabin, the SolarOnTop charges the truck battery, thus preventing costly idling hours. Examples of electronic appliances are the fuel injection and engine management, the air conditioning or daily actions like making coffee, watching TV or charging a laptop. Devices in the trailer such as liftgates and electric pallet trucks can be charged by the SolarOnTop.

In a regular setting, savings of 2,000 to 2,500 liters of diesel per truck each year have been reached, which is equal to about 6 tons of CO2. Together with IM Efficiency, Vos Logistics aims to improve the system even further, so more trucks can use the technology. Thanks to the plug and play system, the SolarOnTop is installed non-invasively on a vehicle within a day.

The insights gained through the cloud solution will be an important driver when it comes to monitoring the result and including them in reports of Vos Logistics. Since 2009 Vos Logistics has created six key performance indicators (KPIs) in order to reach their sustainability goals and are constantly working on improving these results. This is empowered by the cloud platform IM Efficiency has developed for monitoring of the SolarOnTop, showing exactly how much clean electricity has been supplied to the vehicle.

In the near future Vos Logistics will equip another trailer with the SolarOnTop system and hopes that many more will follow. Frank Verhoeven (CEO Vos Logistics) states: "Sustainability is in our DNA. By collaborating with IM Efficiency, among others, we are a trendsetter in embracing the energy transition and make an important contribution to making transport as a branch more sustainable. This to deliver better, faster, cheaper and more sustainable solutions. "

It’s not about predicting the future, but creating it. Together!"

Frank Verhoeven, CEO Vos Logistics