While most people think of residential solar panels when considering solar energy, a new product has been designed to harness the sun for other purposes. In Denmark, Jesper Frausig has designed the Solarbike, an electric bicycle powered by solar wheels. Created to help commuters get to their jobs without working up a sweat, the Solarbike looks just like any other bike, with a few modifications.
The first thing people will notice about the Solarbike is the distinct design of its wheels. Instead of spokes, the wheels have photovoltaic panels. While their vertical orientation makes them less efficient than horizontal panels, they collect enough energy to power the bike for just over 40 miles at a maximum of 30 miles per hour. By reducing speed, a rider would be able to increase overall distance traveled.
The Solarbike is unique in that the panels charge a battery while the bike is sitting in one place, and the battery then powers the bike when it is moving. This way, commuters don’t have to worry about having constant sunlight in order to be able to ride anywhere. Riders will also never need to look for a place to plug the bike in to charge it.
“Our staff are encouraged to bike or use public transit wherever possible,” says Michael Monroe, COO, Great Sky Solar. “It’s thrilling that solar’s making cycling an increasingly viable, safe and healthy commuting option! It’s not just good for you, it makes people happier and represents one less car on the road. And less traffic congestion is good when driving is the only option and having more bikes is just — well, awesome.”
By leaving the Solarbike in the sun, it can recharge the battery for an additional 15 miles of use. If it is overcast, the bike will only be able to recharge another one mile’s worth. The Solarbike has a versatile target market, including the elderly and people with disabilities, commuters, city cyclists, and people who get overly sweaty riding traditional bicycles. Frausig has yet to announce whether the Solarbike will be sold as a whole or as a conversion kit for non-electric bicycles. The Solarbike has been nominated for the Index Design to Improve Life Awards.