Tesla’s solar trailer for range extension


From pv magazine USA

Tesla has unveiled a new concept solar trailer for range extension at the IdeenExpo in Hanover, Germany. The trailer features a fold-out array of nine solar panels and the SpaceX Starlink satellite internet system.

The trailer reportedly can produce about 50 miles of additional electric vehicle range, assuming the modules pictured are about 300 W each. This brings the array capacity to approximately 2.7 kW.

The average US driver covers about 39 miles a day on their daily commute, so the trailer might represent a useful alternative to home charging. Tesla has yet to say whether the prototype will go into mass production.

The trailer also features SpaceX’s Starlink, a satellite-based internet hub that offers high-speed, low-latency broadband internet in remote and rural locations by connecting to a SpaceX Starlink satellite in orbit. Starlink is currently offered for residential and RV applications for an initial hardware cost of about $600, plus $110 to $135 per month for ongoing service.

Solar trailer models have continued to pop up across the globe, designed for various applications. In Munich, Sono Motors recently said it plans to equip the city’s fleet of buses with trailers topped with 20 semi-flexible solar panels.

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The modules cover an area of 12 square meters and supply the 24 V battery with more than 2,000 W. In this pilot, the solar energy generated will be used to operate the HVAC system and to support the trailer steering system. This saves the bus from burning diesel and stabilizes the battery’s energy supply, which lowers maintenance costs and extends battery lifecycle.

The company said a medium-sized fleet of 300 buses could save about 2,000 metric tons of C02 emissions each year. When considering the 1.5 ton C02 emissions “backpack,” or the amount of emissions related to producing the bus trailer, the carbon impact of production would be offset in less than one year of operation.

In Spain, startup Polar Developments created a retractable compact trailer that houses 12 solar panels with a total capacity of 4.4 kW. The system is scalable and can reach a capacity of up to 6.5  kW.

It can be used to provide energy for cars, scooters or electric bikes. It can also provide energy support to homes during power outages, among other uses. The PolarGreen Tow trailer can be transformed into “an authentic removable solar micro farm” in less than an hour.

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