E-mobility plugging into solar


In Munich, photovoltaic company Donauer Solartechnik unveiled its latest e-bike charging stations at the city’s Bike Expo 2011. The Solar Bikeports are individual photovoltaic bike shelters which feature two 230 Wp solar modules that can charge either e-bikes or scooters.

E-bikes worldwide are seeing fast growth and are becoming more popular with urban commuters. The concept is that an electric motor, fed by batteries mounted onto the bike’s frame or wracking, assists the cyclist. The harder the cyclist pedals, the more the motor kicks in.

Bike manufacturer Raleigh has seen demand in for e-bikes expand faster than its production. "The trust in technology is increasing," Raleigh’s Christian Müller told pv magazine, "the battery is going to last one thousand charges and you can ride 60, 80 or over 100 kilometers."

However, despite the expanding battery capacities, e-bikes still do require regular charging. That’s the market charging stations such as Donauer’s are being aimed at. Being off-grid they can be established independent of existing power lines and the energy generated by the panels is stored in batteries integrated into the Bikeport.

Possible areas that may suit Donauer Bikeport application include tourist areas, for transport around large industrial plants, and public buildings. In a statement announcing the Bikeports, Donauer helpfully suggests that the ports could be installed as part of a transport system around large solar power plants themselves.

pv magazine has enquired after the cost of the Bikeports.

Carmakers are also embracing solar e-mobility with Japanese manufacturer Nissan unveiling today a solar charging system for its Leaf electric cars. A new 488 module installation on Nissan’s global headquarters will allow drivers to charge with carbon free energy.

Mitsubishi has also announced that it will develop a portable converter to allow power from its e-cars to be used to power household electronics like rice cookers and washing machines.

Looking towards e-cars’ end of life, Nissan has also committed to develop a re-fabrication and re-sale business of high-capacity car batteries when a car is traded in or scrapped. Forming a joint venture called 4R Energy Corp, the batteries will provide storage for houses generating their own electricity through photovoltaics and can also be used as backup storage in times of emergency.