On the Cutting Edge: Electric Wheelchairs Run on Solar Energy
Solar modules are generating energy to charge electric wheelchairs.
Kyocera Corp. recently announced that a solar project using the company’s solar modules has been awarded the 2012 Swiss Solar Prize: The wheelchairs of 10
inhabitants at the Quimby Huus, an institution for the physically disabled in St. Gallen, Switzerland, are driven exclusively using solar power. A 3 kW solar power generating system using Kyocera solar modules is installed on the roof of the Quimby Huus, providing 3,000 kWh of clean electricity each year—enough to power the residents’ electric wheelchairs all year round without creating any CO2 emissions. This sustainable project is led by environmentally committed Sandro Buff, who has been using a wheelchair himself for 16 years.
Electric wheelchairs typically would be powered by the main utility grid and usually require two 12-volt rechargeable batteries. The idea behind the Quimby Huus solar project was to derive this power entirely from renewable energy. In order to realize this idea, a solar power generating system needed to be installed on the roof to free inhabitants from dependence on the main grid and secure an environmentally friendly form of energy.
Buff quickly gained the support of the Quimby Huus manager. He conceived this project together with energy advisor Peter Grau and installed a 3 kW solar power generating system including 12 Kyocera solar modules on the roof of the home. The project was fully funded by sponsors, and the environmentally friendly power generated from this installation enables the residents to travel approximately 1,500 km per year in their wheelchairs, fuelled solely by the sun’s energy. Moreover, an energy meter was installed to give inhabitants a clear picture of how much energy has been consumed, which increases their awareness of energy consumption and offers additional potential for conservation. The project also aims to serve as a motivation for others to implement their own initiatives.
Buff was awarded the 2012 Swiss Solar Prize for his exceptional commitment. He is convinced that everyone must “play their part in reversing energy trends. Together, we can take on the challenge,” he said.
For more information, visit http://global.kyocera.com.
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