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solar powered electric truck
Credit: Awaken Solar

Clean Power

Solar Powered Box Truck Will Tour America To Promote Renewable Energy

An Idaho entrepreneur has made an electric truck covered in solar panels. He plans to drive it around America to educate people about solar energy.

Joshua Hill lives in Boise, Idaho. A strong believer in the benefits of solar energy, he started Awaken Solar to educate others to the wonders of deriving electricity from sunlight. That involves taking away the fear that people have about the unknown, helping them get together with reputable solar contractors in their area, and explaining their financing and warranty options.

solar powered electric truck

Image credit: Awaken Solar

Then one day, Hill found himself with a unique opportunity — a lightly used Smith electric box truck. The company was ahead of its time when it started manufacturing electric trucks in Kansas City in 2011. Production ceased in 2015, however. What if the truck he found could be covered in solar panels so it never had to be plugged in? Hill decided to find out and Project Griff was born. Griff is an allusion to the winged griffins of mythology (Game of Thrones fans are experts on this subject). With custom designed solar panels covering the roof and sides and with more panels sprouting out over the cab and from the rear, the truck does indeed look a little like a flying dragon. Hill is about to embark on a tour of America that will take him from Idaho down the West Coast to California then across the country to Florida before heading up the East Coast and turning toward home. “That feeling you get of fulfillment and satisfaction, of when I make it across the country…..It’s not very often that you get to do something that has never been done before,” he tells KIVI Channel 6 News in Boise. “Griff can charge people’s electric vehicles, cell phones, and computers,” said Hill. “It can actually charge a house. I have more solar on this truck than the average house uses.” Instead of having to charge Griff’s battery every day, it completely recharges itself by just sitting there. It’s like your gas tank refilling itself every day,” Hill says. He was planning on talking to people in small groups during his journey but the pandemic has forced him to put everything online instead. Still, he hopes Griff will get people interested in learning more about solar power for their homes and the benefits of driving electric cars. “Imagine if your car filled itself up with fuel every day. Not only would that be cool, it would mean ENERGY INDEPENDENCE! Not a penny of your weekly paycheck would need to go to buy transportation fuel…and this can be true for your home as well,” he says. “I imagine a world where there are no lives or dollars taken from Americans for fuel. No more relying on foreign supplies of energy. We declared our independence in 1776, let us declare energy independence in 2020! If you would like to learn more, please follow me on social @AWAKENSOLAR and keep track of all my the stories and travels of my fully solar powered truck using the hashtag #PROJECTGRIFF!” Perhaps we can convince Hill to stop by CleanTechnica intergalactic headquarters while he is touring the US so we can share stories about the clean energy revolution during one of our weekly Impossible Burger and mocktail parties.


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Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his homes in Florida and Connecticut or anywhere else the Singularity may lead him. You can follow him on Twitter but not on any social media platforms run by evil overlords like Facebook.


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