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Thermo King solar panel system cuts costs and emissions

EUROPEAN logistics company ECS has equipped 76 refrigerated trailers with a solar panel system that reduces the annual fuel consumption of each trailer by 1000 litres.

Such reductions in fuel use are estimated to cut the CO2 emissions of the reefer fleet by at least 2000 tonnes in ten years, minimising the environmental impact of ECS’ operations.  

The solar panel system has been provided by American transport refrigeration specialist Thermo King. The roof-mounted panels help keep the refrigeration unit’s battery charged, which in turn reduces the need for its engine to run.

This cuts fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, as well as minimising the unit’s engine hours and extending its service intervals, resulting in a more sustainable and cost-effective power solution.

Because the battery is automatically topped up and kept in prime condition, it will also last longer – and, because it will be harder to deplete the battery, the chance of encountering a flat battery and a no-start situation should be eliminated. 

This, coupled with the reductions in consumption and wear, will further help reduce the running costs of each reefer unit.

“As a logistics service provider, ECS recognizes the environmental impact of our business and takes the responsibility to reduce this impact as much as possible,” said Jonas Van Den Broucke, technical fleet manager at ECS. 

“Our relationship with Thermo King goes back over 20 years and they have always excelled in providing us with reliable, cost-efficient products and experienced service. When they advised us to consider the solar panels for our refrigerated trailer fleet, we had to give it a try.”

To ascertain the real-world benefits, before committing to outfitting 76 of its 220-strong fleet, ECS ran a six-month field test with four Thermo King ThermoLite-equipped trailers. The units, which ran on four different routes across Europe, were then remotely monitored using Thermo King’s “TracKing” system.

ECS then compared the battery charge levels and fuel consumption with four conventional units on its fleet, which revealed the aforementioned fuel saving of 1000 litres a year per trailer. 

Samer Hawat, area sales and service manager Belgium and Luxembourg at Thermo King, said: “Equipped with solar panels, ECS’ refrigeration units will have a source of sustainable power on the road, which will increase the company’s operational efficiency, reduce their environmental footprint and contribute to the strategic sustainability goals.”

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