IIT-Bombay graduate Sushil Reddy (27), who had embarked on a 7,500 km journey on a solar-powered bicycle designed by himself on May 8, finally completed his mission earlier this week. Reddy, who obtained a dual degree in Energy Science in 2013, was working in a campus start-up when he decided to take up the campaign of solar awareness. “The aim of my 79-day journey was to educate and unite people over a cause that will dominate the future energy needs,” an ecstatic Reddy told dna after recovering from the tiresome journey.
He rode across Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh to showcase the application and potential of solar energy through his ride. Apart from various sponsors, Reddy’s support team included IIT student Rajendra Bhaskhar – who helped in planning the route for maximum utilisation of sunshine, favourable terrain and weather and safety for cyclists – and his former colleagues Krunal Tailor (who delivered lectures about solar system design in the seminars) and Himanshu Singh (the mechanic during the journey).
The GPS-enabled bicycle has 240-watt solar panels on an attached trailer. It runs on a 250-watt rear hub motor and 48V Lithium Ion battery. The average speed of this cycle is 20 km per hr.Talking about the experience, Reddy said, “It was a fun yet challenging ride, since I was riding in peak summer.” Explaining the need for solar power, he said, “The government of India launched the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission, which aims to generate 100,000 MW of solar power by 2022. Currently, the installed solar capacity in India is approximately 5,000 MW. To achieve this ambitious target, there is a requirement of skilled manpower in the solar energy sector.”
At present, Reddy is working on a cheaper version of the solar cycle model, (which will cost approximately Rs 30,000), along with a four-panel solar charger (that charges in two hours and the cycle can go for 100 km with partial paddling) to launch in the Indian market within two years from now.”My next project is to popularise the environment-friendly solar-powered electric car, which is not available in India. This is an ambitious plan, wherein the government support would be needed to set up a network of solar charging stations like the petrol pumps.”
Insisting that such bicycles were the need of the hour, especially in metro cities, Reddy said, “They will not only address the pollution and traffic woes of congested cities but would also offer a healthy commute to people.”