A solar-powered bike offers low-carbon transport

Seeking to help local citizens avoid traffic congestion and emissions from standard types of transportation, a team from John Atanasov School in Bulgaria has invented an electric bicycle, powered by the sun.

In Sofia, Bulgaria, high numbers of cars and buses on city streets lead to traffic jams and high levels of pollution. To help people get places more quickly with less environmental impact, Yordan Andreev and Lyuboslav Anachkov from John Atanasov School are developing a system in which electric bicycles (e-bikes) are parked at a charging station equipped with solar panels.  

The team recognised that efficiency is critical to the uptake of the e-bikes: the solar system supports a full battery charge within the time span of a normal working day.  The project also has a recycling element! In many cases, they convert old, conventional bicycles to the electric versions, ordering new parts from suppliers only as needed. This also helps keep costs low, both for potential users and for the project implementation.  

Having already built prototype e-bikes, the team has now secured some pre-sales to help finance continued research and development. They have committed to fulfil these orders by the end of 2019 and use the knowledge and experience gained to expand in 2020 and beyond.  

Already, the team is investigating ways to offer a subsidized rental option to help bring clean transportation to disadvantaged groups, who cannot afford the up-front cost of an e-bike – and may even have trouble paying for public transport. Facilitating a switch to the e-bikes would enhance mobility for such groups while also building their knowledge of – and boosting their engagement in – environmental action.  

John Atanasov School’s Solar E-bike Project is one of 15 finalists in the Social Innovation to Tackle Fuel Poverty Program, launched by the Schneider Electric Foundation, the Ashoka Foundation, and Enel Group. The partners are excited to have, for the first time, social innovators who are still in their teens advance to the finalist category!