Solar Vehicle Goes Around the World

August 19, 2008 11:04:43 AM PDT
Louis Palmer, a Swiss solar pioneer and inventor, is completing an ambitious plan to travel around the world in a solar-powered vehicle called the "Solartaxi." The Solartaxi is crossing the US right now. The name "Solartaxi" is an invitation for people around the planet to take a ride on solar energy and solar technology to a cleaner, nonpolluting future. After setting off from his Swiss hometown of Lucerne on July 3rd 2007, his journey around the world will last one and a half years, taking passengers along the way, traveling over 40 countries, and totaling about 31,000 miles. The aim of Palmer's project is to show that solutions to help combat global warming are available. He started his North American leg in Vancouver on Canada Day, July 1st, and will end around September 23rd in Montreal. US cities are being traveled through for most of that time.

"I have not paid a single cent for gasoline after driving two thirds around the world so far!" says Louis Palmer, the Swiss adventurer and solar pioneer.

On July 3, 2007 he set off with his Solartaxi on this pioneering journey from Lucerne, Switzerland. Bertrand Picard, who is planning to fly around the world in a solar plane Solar Impulse in 2011, was the first passenger on board the Solartaxi, accompanying Palmer on the first stage of his journey. In times of depleting resources, high fuel prices and global warming, Louis Palmer of Lucerne is looking for alternative transportation technologies. The Solartaxi was designed and built by four Swiss universities: HTA - Technik & Architektur - Hochschule Lucerne, ETH - Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, University of Applied Sciences, Aargau and University of Applied Sciences, Berne. He will travel approximately 31,000 miles with solar electricity. The Solartaxi consists of a solar vehicle and trailer with high-efficiency solar cells from Q-Cells. The vehicle is powered by 100% solar energy on its journey around the world. 50% of the energy comes from its own solar cells on the trailer; the other 50% are produced, certified and fed into the power grid from the roof of the Swisscom building in K?niz and accessed via power sockets while en route. The Solartaxi thus uses electricity from 100% renewable energy and releases no emissions into the atmosphere. On his promotional trip, Palmer wants to demonstrate that sustainable technologies are already perfectly suited for everyday use and that they can even be used to go around the world.

Take a ride in the Solartaxi

The solar-powered vehicle has space for an additional person. Palmer makes use of this space to give various passengers a ride along the way and is why the vehicle is called a taxi. The Solartaxi, which travels at a maximum speed of 55mph on its three wheels, is equipped with luxurious bucket seats guaranteeing both fun and comfort. The Solartaxi has the unique ability to allow either the driver or the passenger to drive the vehicle as the steering slides across horizontally. This is also helpful when the driver side changes from right to left, as is the case in several countries along the way such as England, Japan and Australia. A conventional vehicle driven by the German student Thomas Gottschalk accompanies the Solartaxi. The accompanying vehicle is needed as it carries supplies needed for a trip around the world. Louis Palmer set off eastwards on July 3, 2007 via Germany where he visited his main sponsor QCells. Traveling through Eastern Europe, the Middle East, India, Indonesia, New Zealand, Australia and the Far East, he arrived in Vancouver at the end of June 2008. His goal is to cover at least 31,000 miles and to visit 50 countries and 5 continents. The project partner for this initiative is Presence Switzerland - an institution whose mission it is to present Switzerland abroad - together with the Swiss Embassies that are organizing welcome events along the route. Travel between continents will take place by ship. If everything works out, the Solartaxi will set a world record being the first motor vehicle not powered by fossil fuels to drive around the world on normal roads. Palmer is reporting daily from his pioneering trip in an online diary, which can be followed at www.bluewin.ch/solartaxi. For more information on the journey, go to www.solartaxi.com.


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