ebike with solar panels

Sun Trip 2015: 7000 Km on a Solar Powered Ebike

This is not the first time we have talked about ebikes equipped with solar panels. It’s the perfect solution: what could be better than taking advantage of the sun to charge your ebike battery? Drawing attention on these topics and encouraging the research are the main goals of the Sun Trip 2015: a 7000 kilometers trip between Milan and Cappadocia (Turkey) riding solar-powered electric pedal vehicles.

route of the Sun Trip 2015

The departure has taken place on June 6th from the Sforza Castle in Milan (which is currently hosting the International Expo). The itinerary is a 7000 km loop: you can go in a way, or the other way around. You can get to Turkey riding through Italy and Greece or through the Balkans and Bulgaria. The only two mandatory stops are Cappadocia and Antalya, the next Expo city.

100 people applied to take part in the race. Only about 30 were selected. Among them, there’s Raf Van Hulle, a 39 years old Belgian that won the Sun Trip 2013. As you can see from the photo below, his vehicle has two solar panels, one on the front of the bike, one on the back on a trailer, and a back hub-motor. Thanks to this vehicle, Raf was faster than everyone else and in 2013 he was able to cover the whole itinerary with an average of 200 km/day.

Anyway, panels don’t power the motor directly, but the battery. The battery of these vehicles, according to the rules, can have a  1100Wh maximum capacity and a 48V maximum voltage. Sun Trip vehicles can only have one motor for each person (therefore tandem bikes can have two motors), with a maximum speed of 45 km/h. The assistance can be activated through a sensor or a throttle. The solar panels must have a 1000Wp (Watt-peak) maximum power when the ebike is not moving. When you’re riding, this value must be between 100 and 500Wp (exposing a wide portion of solar panels can be dangerous if windy). Participants can take a charger with them, but it will be sealed. They can use it in case of emergency, but they will be disqualified if they do so.

ebike with solar panelsIn 2013, only 9 participants out of 30 were able to ride through the whole itinerary using solar power only. “A few people” you could say, but the itinerary included dirt roads and paths with many holes, which made it easy for solar panels to break.

This video is about Sun Trip 2013:

The vehicles we showed you in this article are quite interesting, but not very practical for an everyday use.
The surface required to charge batteries with solar panels is still too wide to allow these vehicles to become popular.
Of course, events like the Sun Trip can be an encouragement to the research so that we can find a suitable solution. But the real progress will be made when solar panels will be more efficient, and we’ll be able to use much smaller panels. At the moment, the best way to take advantage of solar power when charging your ebike battery is through your house’s solar panels, or if we think about bike sharing, on rent stations’ roofs.

All photos are courtesy of thesuntrip.com

Sun Trip 2015: 7000 Km on a Solar Powered Ebike last modified: 2015-06-09T16:22:57+00:00 by Elisa

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