Sustainability / Reading time: ~ 2 Min.

Solar energy: rooftop power station


The Deutsche Post DHL Group remains a forerunner on environmental protection technologies for logistics. The new TRAILAR solution cuts fuel consumption of trucks by five percent and therefore reduces carbon dioxide emissions as well as maintenance costs. The largest source of regenerative energy is the sun. But for an efficient usage extensive surface areas are necessary, for instance large solar parks are sprung into existence on the sites of former airfields. At the same time, a few million square meters of unused area ideally suited for solar installations are available. Namely truck roofs. At the IAA Commercial Vehicles Show in Hanover Deutsche Post DHL Group has introduced a technology to exploit this wasted space for photovoltaics. The TRAILAR project is based on thin film, flexible solar matting installed on rigid vehicle roofs directly connected to the vehicles battery, potentially with additional on-board batteries.

Energy for ancillary equipment

Aaron Thomas and Denny Hulme, co-founders of Trailar [Photo: Deutsche Post DHL Group]
Aaron Thomas and Denny Hulme, co-founders of TRAILAR [Photo: Deutsche Post DHL Group]

The electricity produced is used to power on-board sets like power tail lifts or air conditioning. This way the load incurred by the engine charged main battery will be significantly lightened and the loss of engine output due to charging will be reduced. The effect is clearly noticeable: Aaron Thomas and Denny Hulme, co-founders of the Post-subsidiary TRAILAR Ltd., expect a cut to vehicle fuel consumption by five percent and less wear on the engine. Thus, CO2-emmissions and running costs drop likewise. Retrofitting of trucks already in operation is possible without much effort. “We have developed a solution which implements the latest solar technology onto new and existing vehicles, so that our customers can operate more cleanly and efficiently. It helps the road transport industry adjust to a future with higher fuel prices and stricter emissions regulations.”

Global plans

Development partner of Deutsche Post DHL is Don-Bur, the leading manufacturer of commercial vehicle trailers in the UK. Accordingly, the first tests were run within the vehicle fleet of DHL Supply Chain UK. The next step will consist of trials in the course of the SmarTrucking initiative in India. “Potential for emission reduction is essential especially in the road transport area and DHL Freight is consistently at the forefront of technological developments. TRAILAR is perfectly suited for the strategic evolution of our own vehicle fleet as well as the fleets of our partners”, says Antje Huber, Global Head of Strategy, Marketing, and Chief of Staff DHL Freight. A global rollout of TRAILAR at Deutsche Post DHL Group already started.

Zero emissions by 2050

With regard to sustainability, Deutsche Post DHL Group has stipulated a clear goal: “Our TRAILAR solution is a key contributor to our GoGreen program and takes us a big step forward towards our goal of becoming the zero-emissions logistics leader by 2050,” explains Thomas Ogilvie, Deutsche Post DHL Group board member for Human Resources and Corporate Incubations. “However, while we are improving our environmental footprint, we also want to increase our corporate success. Trailar is another great proof point for the fact that cost and emission reductions are not mutually exclusive, but can complement each other.”
In any case, the corporate group relies more and more on new technologies for running its vehicle fleets. Besides TRAILAR the electrically driven light transport StreetScooter and tests with the electric 7.5-ton truck eCanter are amongst others a visible sign of the technology change at the logistics specialist corporation. Thus DHL Freight started to use four trucks powered by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) in Belgium and with that brings environmentally friendly transport to it’s long distance road freight.“The corporate group goal of zero emissions is our response to the challenge of climate change and environmental regulations. Improving the efficiency of our road transportation on a continuous basis is not only an important step to help the environment but also our promise for those we are operating for - namely our customers. That's why we will focus steadily on future tests to get one step closer to our common goal”, says Antje Huber.

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