Disgusted with the frequent petrol price hikes and the histrionics that follow? Definitely it’s time to think of alternatives.
Look up – Sun and ways to harness its energy have now caught the fancy of even common people. So much so that when the Trivandrum Global City Initiative (TGCI) functioning out of Kanthari (formerly International Institute for Social Entrepreneurship) at Vellayani developed a uniquely designed solar bicycle, it took them four hours to transport it in a carrier-auto from Vellayani to Technopark.
The reason? Vehicle-owners, motorists and curious passersby kept stopping the vehicle to find out more about the cycle, its cost and availability.
The TGCI has developed two cycles, one in red and one in white as a pilot project for UST Global. If this is successful, the TGCI intends to identify a manufacturer and go in for mass production of the same. Their idea is to get 10,000 solar cycles on the roads of Ananthapuri, in the nearest future, while that of UST’s is a petrol-free campus.
‘’This solar cycle was developed to demonstrate that the time has come for eco-friendly, cost-effective and healthy alternatives to travel, rather than using expensive and environmentally damaging fuels such as petrol,’’ said Alexei Levene, managing director of TGCI.
The solar bicycle operates like any normal pedal cycle, but has an electric motor in the back wheel that lowers the resistance in pedalling, making it easier to go even uphill. The cycle has an overhead flexible covering lined with solar cells which can also double up as an umbrella, protecting you both from rain and blistering Sun. The sunlight charges a battery, kept in a box right beneath the seat.
Shyamkumar, technical director of TGCI, who has also designed and developed the cycle, said that the motor can be fully charged not just when it is out on the streets but also when left outside in the sunlight. This means that if you are at office, the bike gets charged by the time you want to ride back home. When the Sun is not shining, the bike can be charged by electricity.
The first prototype of the solar bicycle that the TGCI developed had bulky solar panels on the carrier which could not be opened or charged while riding. ‘’We imported flexible solar panels that now work as a canopy over the rider’s head. Comparatively, this model is lighter and since the battery is kept beneath the seat, it is easier for the rider to balance the vehicle,’’ said Shyamkumar.
The bike has to be charged for six to eight hours and can run a cool 25-30 km when fully charged. The best part is, running out of solar power is nothing like running out of petrol. You can still get home, and get a good exercise too. Cycling is also known to be a great stress-buster.
‘’When you think about how much petrol and maintenance of a car cost each year, the opportunities for savings are immense and the solar cycle provides a healthy fast alternative,’’ said Alexei.
Shyamkumar gave some interesting figures on this. Consider a bike with a mileage of 60 km per litre of petrol. If it travels 20 km a day, within three days that one litre of petrol will be used up. He would need two litres per week and eight litres per month and approximately 100 litres per year. If one solar cycle can save one 100 litres of petrol a year, imagine how many litres of petrol 10,000 bikes can save?
This is precisely what the TGCI is aiming at – 10,000 solar bicycles in this city of Ananthapuri, to be followed by other regions of the State. ‘’We are looking to roll this solar cycle out across the region to enhance the quality of life, protect the environment and give citizens a real choice about how they travel,’’ said Alexei Levene.
The TGCI expects the cost to be around Rs 20,000 to Rs 25,000 when the cycles are mass-produced, with government subsidy. Not a huge amount to convert Thiruvananthapuram into an environment-friendly, pollution-free, solar city.
News Sourced from “The New Indian Express“