African Innovation: Solar Powered Motorbikes

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There are over 2 million registered motor vehicles in Nairobi and many of them are older vehicles which emit relatively high levels of pollution. As it turns out, Charles Ogingo, Robert Achoge and James Ogola all final year students have built a system they call Ecotran, which captures the sun’s energy, stores it in batteries, and uses it to charge a motorcycle’s electric motor. Ecotran is part of the energy company, Pfoofy Power and Light Ltd. After successfully trying out the Ecotran technology on three locally bought motorcycles in Kisumu County’s Nyakach area, the young innovators are now expanding the project, and powering 40 more bikes.

Pfoofy motorcyclesThe young entrepreneurs have set up a “fueling” station with 40 solar photo-voltaic units, each generating 250 watts of electricity. The energy is stored in batteries before being transformed by powerful inverters into the alternating current needed by the motorcycle. The motorbike uses a small portable battery which, fully charged, can run for 70 kilometers (40 miles), after which it must return to the station to be recharged while another charged battery is fitted to the bike.

The students will lease the bikes to 40 riders who they have trained in road safety because most motorcyclists in Kenya, have no bikes of their own but ride leased machines. Riders like Alfred Omondi, used a petrol motorcycle to make 1,000 shillings ($9.60) on a good day, but would spend about 350 shillings on fuel and another 300 to lease the bike from its owner. Now it costs him 100 shillings (96 cents) to recharge the electric motorbike, saving him money even as he helps the environment by curbing pollution and climate-changing emissions.

PFOOFY POWER & LIGHT LTD

Pfoofy is a renewable energy firm based in Nairobi. They believe in the provision of sustainable, smart and affordable energy to the off-grid populations.  Pfoofy Power & Light Ltd has come up with smart, innovative and affordable energy solutions for lighting, agriculture and transport for the rural areas of Kenya. They provide affordable lighting solutions through leasing of custom made solar lanterns powered by detachable batteries rechargeable at their charging stations. They also offer affordable transportation through the use of electric motorcycles recharged through their massive solar charging stations.

Ecotran, a subsidiary of Pfoofy Power & Light Ltd. is a unique initiative that provides affordable transport to the rural communities using electric motorcycles. Ecotran is an initiative brought in place to curb the high costs of fuel, overcharging of fares by motorbike (bodaboda) operators and the associated environmental degradation in the off-grid populations. Ecotran involves the recharge of these electric motorcycles through massive solar charging stations which are thereafter hired out to trained company drivers for the purpose of transporting goods and services within the markets we cover.

 

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