Kenya begins mass production of solar motorcycles to reduce carbon emission
London,Jan. 6, 2019 (AltAfrica)– Nairobi’s reliance on motorcycles is hindering efforts to reduce carbon emissions, as manufacturers struggle to adapt to clean energy technology.
But the growing popularity of a new solar-powered motorcycles( three-wheeler) means hope is not totally lost for a city dangerously high on carbon emission
The new solar-powered three-wheeler being developed by the Strathmore Energy Research Centre hopes to solve these issues by giving back more control to the driver.
“The battery capacity when fully charged means that one can drive 50 kilometers [about 30 miles] — if the sun is low, one can peddle home, Ignatius Maranga, a renewable energy engineer and researcher told DW. “The [three-wheeler] allows one to conduct business during the day and then use the remaining energy to power the home.”
The developers hope to begin mass production by early 2019, using their €100,000 ($114,000) prize from the 2018 Valeo Innovation Challenge in Paris in October.
They estimate the solar-powered motorcycle will sell for approximately $1,000. Customers can also choose a pay-as-you-go scheme, contributing $2 a day for around three years.
How does this innovation help Kenya– Kenya has committed to reducing its carbon emissions by at least 30 percent by 2030. In order to meet this commitment, Rubia said 20 percent of Kenya’s motorcycles must be electric-powered by this deadline.
“This will ensure an economic win for the high number of unemployed youth and prepare Africa for a transition to an electric mobility transport system in general,” Rubia said.
Rubia pointed out that, unlike electric cars, electric motorcycles do not require an investment in new transport infrastructure such as the installation of special charging stations.
“A normal electric motorcycle battery can be charged at home using the normal electricity outlets,” he said.
The government is actively working toward meeting its NDC commitment by focusing on developing cleaner solar motorcycles.
Kenya, alongside Uganda, Ethiopia and Rwanda, is collaborating with the Nairobi-based UN Environment to collect baseline data and develop trials for electric motorcycles and three-wheelers.
This will allow these countries to develop the right policy interventions and, it’s hoped, introduce more electric motorcycles on the streets.
According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, more than 190,000 new motorcycles and three-wheeled vehicles were registered in 2017, compared to approximately 66,000 cars. This trend has continued into 2018, with 108,000 motorcycles and three-wheelers registered since January against just 38,000 cars.
What’s worrying is the fact that these solar motorcycles — which are increasing in demand thanks to a growing young population in search of employment — produce more carbon emissions than cars.
A baseline survey on electric mobility in Kenya conducted by the University of Nairobi reveals a steep rise in cumulative emissions from two and three-wheeled vehicles between 2005 and 2017.
Clean energy technology for motorcycles is simply not developing at the same rate as cars.
“Cars are getting more efficient because of vehicle emission technologies, while motorcycles are not,” David Rubia, an air quality and mobility program officer at the United Nations Environment Program (UN Environment), told DW. “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.”