A solar-powered… truck stop?

476869561VC009_Melbourne_Tr
Vince Caligiuri | Getty Images

Australian transport fuel company Caltex Australia has built what it believes to be the world's first off-grid, solar-powered truck stop and gas station.

The idea behind the scheme is to extend the range of the company's truck refueling network, which already consists of 200 "dedicated truck stops" as well as 300 "truck friendly sites."

Two sites in remote areas of the Pilbara region in Western Australia have been set up with solar panels and on-site battery storage. They are not connected to mains power.

"The biggest challenge of supplying fuel in remote parts of Australia isn't getting fuel there," Leon Calvetti, Caltex network development manager for Western Australia, said in a statement this week.

The issue, Calvetti went on to explain, was powering pumps so that fuel could get into a vehicle's tanks.

"It's very expensive and inefficient to run a generator when there are only a handful of customers every day," he said.

"By creating what we believe are the world's first fully solar-powered fuel facilities, we can efficiently provide diesel in some of the most remote locations of Australia," he went on to add.

One of the largest countries in the world, Australia is blessed with abundant sunshine. According to Geoscience Australia, the Australian continent has what it describes as "the highest solar radiation per square meter of any continent."

Globally, the potential of solar is considerable. In 2014 the International Energy Agency stated that the sun could be the planet's biggest source of electricity by 2050.

In the U.S., the solar industry installed 7,286 megawatts of solar power in 2015, according to data from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association.