Harnessing the Power of the Sun: Sunswap’s Solar-Powered Transport Refrigeration

Imagine a world where the sun powers our refrigerated transport. Sunswap Endurance achieves this with solar and battery technology, providing up to 98% of energy in summer and 24% in winter.

Imagine a world where the sun powers the vehicles that keep our food and medicine fresh during transport. Sunswap Endurance is realising this with our battery and solar-powered transport refrigeration technology.

Let’s explore how combining solar energy with a purpose-built battery electric refrigeration unit can have substantial emissions and cost savings that might surprise you.

The Power of Solar Energy

In an early trial with a large manufacturing company transporting chilled goods, we first proved the real potential of solar power for keeping cargo cool and the vast amount of overall energy it can provide. With this customer, Sunswap Endurance is projected to generate a substantial 78% of its annual energy requirements from solar power year.

During peak summer months, solar is projected to consistently supply over 90% of the energy needs, reaching up to 98% in April and May. Even in the depths of winter, solar is anticipated to contribute a significant portion, with the lowest being 24% in December. Thus evidencing the synergy of solar generation with cold chain logistics.

As Michael Lowe, CEO of Sunswap, explains, “Solar panels are the perfect green solution because they provide free, clean energy that helps extend the range of our system. It means that the unit is able to complete the same delivery cycles as a customer does today with a diesel-powered system.”

Consistent Performance Across Seasons

Sunswap’s Endurance TRU is designed to ensure consistent performance across seasons, optimising energy usage based on available solar power.

As Michael points out, “There’s no better use case for solar panels than when they’re powering a transport refrigeration system. That’s because there’s a perfect relationship between the ambient heat created by sunshine and the cooling energy required. The more the sun shines, the more energy you collect to counteract the additional cooling required by the transport refrigeration unit. And that’s true for any time of year or any time of day.”

Benefits for Operators

By harnessing free solar energy, operators can significantly reduce their energy costs while also reducing their carbon footprint. Impressively, with this customer routes even during the darker winter months, the average daily charge time for the electric TRU is only 17 minutes.

As the solar panels take energy across the entire day, the batteries will charge even if the trailer is stationary or not connected to a tractor unit. This reduces the requirements of customers’ grid infrastructure and doesn’t impact their tractors fuel economy like the other systems.

In the summer months when energy demand from the fridge is high, solar can provide energy throughout the day that is the same as increasing the battery size by 36%. Therefore reducing the size and associated cost and weight of the battery required.  

Solar panels also bring additional benefits over proposed solutions like Axle Regeneration or Power Take off systems connected to the tractor unit’s alternator. These options rely on a tractor unit and reduce fuel economy and increase diesel costs. Plus, when operators move to electric tractor units will significantly reduce the range.

A Sustainable Future for Cold Chain

Sunswap’s analysis, collected across 22 trials and backed by a decade of weather data, demonstrates the significant potential of solar energy in powering refrigerated transport. As businesses increasingly prioritise sustainability and cost-effectiveness, Sunswap’s battery and solar-powered TRU offers a truly viable solution.

If you’re interested in learning how Sunswap’s Endurance TRU can enhance your fleet’s sustainability and save operational cost contact us today.