Is Tesla Poised To Power Its Electric Truck With Solar Panels?


Tesla has a new addition to its line-up, an all-electric Semi truck with two improvements over a traditional truck – reducing emissions and being significantly safer than the diesel counterpart.

Would it make sense to have solar panels on the Tesla Semi? Experts have tried to estimate solar panels’ effect on the trailer roof, and here’s a brief overview.

At the outset, it is important to know that power and energy are two different things. Power is the rate that one would get energy from the sun. The light from the sun produces around 1,000 Watts per square meter, at the surface of the Earth. And, in terms of energy, this would be 1,000 Joules per second.

What a solar panel can produce on an average depends on various factors, like the efficiency and the angle at which the sunlight hits the panel. The estimated power for a solar Semi, based on some assumptions, would first need a size estimate. Assuming, a solar panel covers the entire top of a standard Semi-trailer, the total area could be around 39 square meters. The next requisite is the time and average incident angle for the sunlight. A rough estimate with a time of around 8 hours at 60% from vertical would have an efficiency of 20%.

The trailer solar panel would reportedly be meaningful when the energy from the panels would be significant with respect to the energy stored in the truck battery. As the Tesla truck size isn’t listed, experts estimate it to the range of 500 miles, which is a sort of diesel truck. So, the energy calculated is around 5346 MJ.

The energy from the solar panel would be around 2% of the total battery energy. Experts believe that even with a deviation in the calculation, the total battery capacity would still be at 10%, which implies that it would take around 80 hours to charge the whole battery.

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