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TRANSOLAR: Solar energy and Logistics

Taking advantage of trailers’ surface available in long distance transportation sector operations, every truck’s trailer offers a standard potential for PV on board energy generation in very similar conditions that fit very nicely with existing PV market technologies, products and solutions.

Similar to a household dynamic solution (on wheels) model, in which the appropriate energy storage design delivers in an optimal generation and demand balance, the system is operated either on wheels or grid connected during down times.

Despite of regulatory barriers due to the lack of specific framework for the introduction of PV energy generation in the transportation sector, at this point in time experience gained with traditional PV solutions and ongoing innovative developments in the field of electric vehicles already delivered in mature players and capable market scenarios.

TRANSOLAR

The Business Model Solution is based on Energy Service Companies operating in the transportation and logistics sectors among different stakeholders:

– logistics companies

– energy users (truck drive and truck auxiliaries)

– assets management companies

– truck owners

– grid operators

– energy generators

– DSO´s

– IT and big data operators

– Legal framework: policy and regulatory

For operating purposes the ESCO Company needs to be stablished in a broad scope of geographic areas as far as the logistics market operations demand.

The new business development and streamlining into the existing trailers box manufacturing sector as well as in the transportation sector will demand strategies that smoothly align with existing markets as if it was a current trailers evolution, as well as disruptive approaches like «new market product», and early market introduction in those geographic areas in which logistics has not come yet to be a mature and structured market.

On a preliminary rough cut analysis for market sizing in Europe it is considered 1.000.000 trucks at European level, accounting in average 10Kw – PV per unit, and a trailers life cycle of 10 years. The gross figure shows like 10Gw – PV Solar potential in Europe with an ambitious target of 1Gw turnover replacement yearly, as per current trailers replacement rates. Figures for Asia and America are not yet estimated in terms of impact and business dimensions.

The development of the solution will require research for a new operation´s platform at the energy generation and management level enabled with electronic data monitoring and tele control for the whole fleet of assets belonging to the different logistic operators. Transparency and independency between the logistic and energy businesses will be a must on legal, economics and operational levels. With that purpose different preliminary scenarios are to be analyzed and prospected in the research program for different geographic areas, thus delivering in clearer input for the global deployment of the solution.

 

In terms of impact on the current logistics models we do foresee the following environmental improvements:

  • Fuel consumption reduction substituted by PV electricity supply (5%)
  • Further optimization of freight cooling systems
  • Energy efficiency gains in truck´s auxiliaries
  • Fostering trailers boxes efficiency redesign (materials)
  • Increased capacities for cool chain monitoring
  • Added value on existing transportation assets being operated both on transportation and energy sector
  • New knowledge areas related to PV operation and monitoring
  • Further truck connectivity to the grid, logistics premises and operational supervision
  • Logistics sector emissions reduction
  • Safer logistics operations due to the development of a new supervision system dealing with energy
  • Synergies with existing solar data basis feed with solar performance operated on trucks
  • Strong educational and awareness raising in transportation sector as well as powerful visual communication on clean tech-on-wheels

Despite an already existing variety of patents and models around the globe looking at the proposed solution, so far the break through delivering in a sustainable operational model has not reach the market due to the complexity introduced by the fact that the PV energy solutions must be strongly embedded and finely connected in existing operational logistics systems with an absolute guarantee of de-risking current logistic business.

Recent developments during the last decade in terms of ESCO models, energy storage and management solutions, PV efficiency gains, standalone operated and systems in islands, as well as a strong transportation electrification scenario are closing the gap at the technology level; nevertheless, being the business drivers in terms of efficiency and competitiveness not aligned as per logistics operations and electricity generation it is yet to be explored in detailed the right mechanisms that will guarantee market decoupling and avoid misleading interactions with current logistic business which will be hosting the deployment of on board PV generation business model.