Wind and solar powered e-bike charging station opens in Tyneside

Power Trip, an off-grid e-bike charging station, began generating electricity outside the Cycle Hub bike shop and cafe on March 15. Overlooking some of the famous Tyne Bridges, bike center is a key destination for cyclists on the long-distance cycle routes that run alongside the River Tyne. All customers arriving on e-bikes can now connect to the Power Trip – for pennies – and, while sipping their cappuccinos, recharge their batteries with carbon-free energy.

Using an ever-generating combination of photovoltaic solar panels and a small wind turbine, Power Trip was developed by Geoff Wallman and made by his girlfriend, Alexandra Prince. Wallman has a doctorate. in Engineering from the University of Newcastle, where he specialized in combined heat and power, or thermoacoustics.

His startup, Intelgen Internationalis based near Hexham in the Tyne Valley, 20 miles from Newcastle.

“It’s the first zero-carbon e-bike charging station,” Wallman says.

“There’s about half a kilowatt of solar panels and about another half a kilowatt of wind turbine at the top,” he added.

“It’s totally off the grid.”

The conditions were perfect for yesterday’s launch: bright sunshine and sometimes stiff winds. At times, the wind turbine at the top of the Power Trip would spin at high speed, and even when it slowed down, the solar panels meant there was still power generated, then stored in the unit’s onboard batteries.

“Throughout the day, with wind and solar, you’re charging the batteries,” Wallman explains, “and then all night, with wind alone, you’re still charging the batteries.”

Wallman thinks the Power Trip units would work well at remote bike rental stations or outside bike shops that want to generate buzz as well as off-grid power.

The Cycle Hub unit has four power outlets, but this can be adapted to other locations, as can the size of the solar panels.

“People can either bring their own chargers and plug them in, or a bike shop can provide Shimano or Bosch cables, which are the most common battery systems on e-bikes,” Wallman says.

Future Power Trip units will be able to operate 24/7.

“You’ll get on the station, scan your card or phone, and then one of the charging ports will open,” Wallman explains.

Power Trip currently uses new lithium phosphate batteries for storage, but Wallman plans to use used Nissan LEAF electric car batteries, which usually still have a useful life after being used on the road.

“There’s still around 60% capacity left in some of these supposedly end-of-life devices. [electric car] batteries,” Wallman points out.

“Nissan uses a modular system, which would make it a bit easier for us to include those in any future design.”

Wallman’s interest in off-grid power generation began when he was a child on a family holiday in East Anglia.

“We had a static caravan by the windy sea. I remember a young child lying on the bed looking at the ammeter on the side of the cupboard which would tell you how many amps were coming in from that wonky, wonky wind charger that was stuck outside the trailer and tore in the Norfolk and Suffolk winds. Not enough wind and the black and white TV wouldn’t work.

He then studied mechanical engineering at the University of Newcastle.

“Tyneside is such an exciting place for an engineer,” he says.

“At 19, I remember cycling up the coast, past the Swan Hunters shipyard, past all these huge engineering feats, all of which were driven from the northeast, and feeling the hairs on my neck stand up. at the top.”

Turbines were invented in Tyneside by Charles Parsons in the 1880s. His experimental ship Turbinia, built just a few miles from Cycle Hub, was powered by an innovative steam turbine engine, and it outstripped the most modern warships. Royal Navy rapids in the Spithead Naval Review in 1897.

“So much of the electricity in the world is generated by Parsons turbines,” Wallman muses.

“And they were invented right here in Tyneside – it’s an amazing place to live and work.”

Power Trip has been developed with support from the Niche Vehicle Network in conjunction with the Rural Design Center and has also been supported by Innovate UK and the UK Government’s Office for Zero Emission Vehicles. The Niche Vehicle Network offers a collaborative R&D program supporting SME-led projects working on zero-emission and low-carbon vehicle technologies.

A basic Power Trip unit costs around $6,500.

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