Solar trailer for range extension from Tesla

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Tesla 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 is speculated to produce about 50 miles of additional electric vehicle range, assuming the modules pictured are about 300 W each, bringing the array capacity to approximately 2.7 kW.

The average US driver covers about 39 miles a day in their daily commute, so the trailer may represent a useful alternative to home charging. Tesla has not announced whether the prototype will go into mass production.

The trailer also integrates 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-$135 a month for ongoing service.

More solar trailers

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

The solar bus trailer will be used in Munich’s public transportation system.
Image: Sono Motors

The modules cover an area of 12 square meters and supply the 24V battery with over 2,000W. 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.

The PolarGreen Tow.
Image: Polar Developments

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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