Namibians look at SUNPOWER for taxis and bicycles.
THE current edition of the Etango renewable energies magazine reports students from three tertiary institutions in Windhoek have developed a “solar taxi” that is attracting a lot of interest.
The size of a golf cart, the very basic cart has an open roll cage and four plastic seats under solar panels.
Students from the Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust), the Windhoek Vocational Training College (WVTC) and the University of Namibia (Unam) developed a prototype solar taxi after being inspired by the Ilanga solar car built by students at the University of Johannesburg (UJ).
The students started work in November 2015 and completed their sun-powered taxi in January, using second-hand car parts supplied by Spares Centre.
The students told Etango, the aims of their multidisciplinary research project is to develop a solar vehicle that would meet Africans’ needs and budgets.
While the “solar taxi” is innovative, the solar-powered electric bicycles that were introduced to Namibia in 2015 are perhaps more realistic alternative mode of transport in a country where 90% of the two million citizens do not own a car.
THE SOLAR BIKE
SunCycle said, per kilometre, the costs of a solar electric bicycle is around onetenth of a seat in a minibus taxi.
SunCycle said Namibia’s poor spend half of their income on transport; and a third on batteries. “The use of normal bikes is not appropriate because of the hills and the heat. Our solar-powered electric bicycles can give access to labour and good markets, as well as access to and education facilities,” it said.
The heavy battery of the SunCycle, 25 of which had been supplied in Namibia, can also be used to power basic electrical appliances in off-grid areas, an idea that very much appeals to Namibia’s minister of Mines and Energy Obeth Kandjoze.
He said at a recent seminar that Namibia is in an untenable sitution because its people rely on imports of power for as much as 70% of demand during some parts of the year.
“This level of dependency can pose security of supply and economic growth challenges to any country. Ideally, we want a diversified generation mix of technologies that can quickly and efficiently address the country’s energy challenges,” Kandjoze said.
AIMING FOR THE SUN
The Mines and Energy Department is enhealth gaged in talks with over 90 companies to generate power using concentrated sunshine. These companies include the collectors of Heliovis; heat storage using molten salts and potassium nitrate from Haldor Topsoe, BASF and EnergyNest; expertise from Saudi Oger, Engie, the North-West University and the University of Limerick in Ireland; glass panels from Rio Glass and Canadian Solar, as well as finance from Barclays.
A cheap solution to long hot roads for Namibia, a sun-powered bike from SunCycle, 25 of which are already providing cheap rides.