• Powering innovation

    Powering innovation

    Kenya is developing a new environmentally friendly motorcycle to curb its heavy carbon emissions.

    Using its US$114 000 prize from the 2018 Valeo Innovation Challenge in Paris last October, the Nairobi-based Strathmore Energy Research Centre is focusing on a solar-powered three-wheeler, and hopes to commence mass production early this year, the Mail & Guardian reports.

    According to David Rubia, air quality and mobility programme officer at the UN’s Environment Programme, ‘one motorcycle can have up to 300 times more hydrocarbon emissions, and 10 to 50 times more for particulate matter compared to an average petrol car’. He adds that 20% of Kenya’s motorcycles – of which there were 108 000 in 2018 – must be electrically powered by 2030.

    Priced at around US$1 000, customers have the option of a ‘pay-as-you-go’ scheme, committing approximately US$2 a day for three years. Batteries and panels can also be returned and swapped for new ones if they malfunction or once they have exceeded their life expectancy of nine and 25 years respectively, preventing inappropriate disposal of the material.

    Ignatius Maranga, a renewable energy engineer and researcher, says when fully charged, the motorcycle can drive for up to 50 km. ‘If the sun is low, one can peddle home. The [three-wheeler] allows one to conduct business during the day and then use the remaining energy to power it home.’

    15 January 2019
    Image: Solar electric cycles