Biffa trials Britain’s first solar-assisted powered waste trucks

BIFFA is trialling Vision Techniques’ Solar Save panels powered by Trailar on its collection trucks to power their batteries and reduce CO2 emissions. By adding solar panels to top up regular engine power, up to 3,100kg of carbon emissions can be saved per vehicle each year.  

With 2,900 trucks across its business, if the trials are successful this could help Biffa save up to 8,990,000kg of carbon emissions. The amount of fuel saved equates to 95,313 miles.

This would mark a significant contribution to Biffa’s 50% emission reduction target by 2030, building on its successful 65% decrease since 2002. The solar panels would minimise the necessary impact of Biffa’s trucks on the environment.

The reduction in emissions would also contribute to the UK’s Net Zero target for 2050.

Jeff Rhodes, Head of Environment and External Affairs at Biffa, said: “Trialling solar panels to reduce our carbon emissions marks another strategic step in our journey to Net Zero and to making our fleet as environmentally friendly as possible. We introduced the biggest electrical vehicle fleet in the UK in Manchester earlier this year, and we are gradually phasing out our diesel vehicles.  Customers and consumers are demanding businesses to ‘do better’ and by testing out tech like this we’re leading the way.”

Shaun Hamilton, General Manager at Vision Techniques, added: “We needed a forward-thinking company to test the panels on trucks and as Biffa has always wanted to lead the way in technology they were a great fit. Biffa has been a valuable customer for many years, presenting the perfect opportunity to trial this new equipment which coincides with its target for carbon savings and Biffa’s journey to Net Zero. For me it’s a perfect partnership, therefore, to work together to build a commercial and environmental solution to a long-term problem.

Steve Cole, Group Fleet and Procurement Director, said: “Using innovative technology is part of our fleet’s green agenda as we strive to be a low carbon emissions business. This partnership is very exciting, and we are hopeful for a successful trial.”

How do the solar panels work?

The solar panels sit on top of the vehicles and use the light to charge the battery whilst the truck is working. The alternator, which distributes electricity to the truck and charges the battery, then has to use less fuel, saving CO2 emissions.

The trial consists of two vehicles and is taking place in Leeds, for a total of six months.