Two German companies, OPES Solutions and Urban Mobility, have teamed up to equip a heavy-duty electric cargo bike with integrated solar panels. The makers say this extends the range of the bike by up to 20 per cent with full utilisation of the 250 kg payload plus rider.
The two companies say the solar panel is robust and lightweight with a thickness of 3 mm. This is installed on the cargo box of the UM CargoBike which encloses a space of two cubic metres.
Opes Solutions, a solar technology solutions company based in Berlin, say that despite being relatively thin, the integrated photovoltaics are part of an overall robust design that can withstand the typical stresses of delivery cargo bikes in intense urban use. The solar modules are resistant to scratches and impact, are able to withstand vibrations and made to endure being cleaned with a high-pressure cleaner at 130 bar. Opes says that even if the panel suffers a dent, the remaining module area will continue to supply power.
Robert Händel, founder and CEO of Opes Solutions says: “With our solar technology, we enable them to operate more efficiently by combining the features of lightweight, durability and optimised yield. And as customised solar OEM manufacturer for other industries we know how to mass produce with a sustainable supply chain.”
The e-bike has a top spped of 25 kilomtres per hour so that it is allowed on both roads and bike paths and does not require a driver’s licence. The makers point out that this gives the vehicle commercial and operational advantage compared to classic delivery trucks. Other advantages are, of course, the vastly reduced cost of purchase and operation.
The solar module vastly improves the efficiency of the cargo bike, say the makers. They explain that a heavy-duty cargo bike covers a distance of around 8 to 12 km per hour in an everyday delivery schedule whereby it will require nearly 1 kWh of electricity, of course, depending on temperature and the topography of the route. Generally, one delivery tour takes about 4 to 5 hours. Tilman Rosch, CEO of Urban Mobility, says: “With the PV module, up to 800 Wh of electricity can be fed in on such a tour. This extends the operating distance in this example by 45 minutes. This extra distance can make a critical difference in operations as it increases the number of deliveries per day before the bike needs to be recharged.”
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