Belgian wins inaugural France to China solar bike race

August 4, 2018
Raf van Hulle took just 49 days to complete the 12,000 kilometre journey from the French city of Lyon to Guangzhou in southern China

A Belgian cyclist rode 12,000 kilometres (7,500 miles) from the French city of Lyon to the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou in just 49 days to win an inaugural solar-powered electric bike race aimed at promoting renewable energy.

Raf van Hulle's journey took him through Germany, Ukraine, Russia, then Kazakhstan before riding into China, cycling an average of 270 kilometres daily.

He struggled through 3,000 kilometres of slopes amid scorching heat in the Gobi desert, which saw him pedalling unassisted in temperatures of over 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) to avoid overheating his bicycle's battery.

"I am very happy to have won, but also not to have damaged my bike, which is quite expensive," van Hulle told AFP.

The bicycle, which has a solar panel in the front and another on a trailer behind, is used for his daily commute, added the architect, who arrived in Guangzhou on Friday.

The race started in mid-June with 39 participants—they were given 100 days to get from Lyon to Guangzhou without a fixed route—with about 30 competitors remaining.

French organisers Sun Trip started such races in 2013 to promote . Previous editions saw participants racing from Lyon to Kazakhstan and Turkey.

"This performance of solar (energy) applied to mobility and cycling is a success for the development of renewable energy," Sun Trip founder Florian Bailly told AFP.

The Belgian cyclist endured scorching heat in the Gobi desert where he had to pedal unassisted to avoid overheating his bicycle's battery

This edition of the race picked China because of its position as the world's largest emitter of greenhouses gases, but also as the first country to invest in solar , Bailly added.

With the support of the French and Chinese governments, he believes the could become a regular affair.

The bike is equipped with two solar panels—one in the front and another on a trailer behind

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LochBhein
not rated yet Aug 04, 2018
He struggled through 3,000 kilometres of slopes amid scorching heat in the Gobi desert, which saw him pedalling unassisted in temperatures of over 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) to avoid overheating his bicycle's battery.

Sounds like the battery technology still needs a bit of work. When would people appreciate being able to stop peddling? When it's blazing hot!

We've had similar problems with solar PV panels on our community centre. Mid-summers day, lunchtime, bright sun in a clear sky - 70% of nominal peak output, as it was 'too hot'! Apparently solar panels don't work too well when the sun is out!
WillieWard
3 / 5 (2) Aug 04, 2018
At 15% efficiency, a commercial solar panel can harvest 150W/m₂ by midday, not at night nor on cloudy/snowy days.
A cyclist can produce more than 400W, up to 1100W.
So workers pedaling bikes in shift work can produce more energy than "unreliables", 24/7/365 uninterruptedly .
https://uploads.d...d6d2.jpg
Surveillance_Egg_Unit
5 / 5 (2) Aug 04, 2018
Nice .jpg. However, without an efficient high output battery, when the clouds roll in and darkens the sky (daytime) the solar panel(s) become almost useless and the bike stops rolling and the pedaling begins. I like the idea of a solar bike either way.

But where is there room for all the water he needed? Did he have backup following behind to carry supplies such as a pump and tires?

Pedaling uphill is eventually tiring but rolling downhill doesn't require much energy. So he might have taken the routes that were mostly downhill and then flat. That would be smart.
Thorium Boy
3 / 5 (2) Aug 05, 2018
More pretending the Chinese do anything more than pay lip service to the global warming kooks. Only they inexplicably pretend otherwise.
antialias_physorg
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 05, 2018
Raf van Hulle's journey took him through Germany, Ukraine, Russia, then Kazakhstan before riding into China, cycling an average of 270 kilometres daily.

As an avid cyclist that is (even though electrically assisted) friggin' impressive.
zz5555
3 / 5 (2) Aug 05, 2018
We've had similar problems with solar PV panels on our community centre. Mid-summers day, lunchtime, bright sun in a clear sky - 70% of nominal peak output, as it was 'too hot'! Apparently solar panels don't work too well when the sun is out!

You might want to get them checked. I live in the US southwest where it's very sunny and hot. I just looked at the power generation records from one particular hot week this summer and there was no evidence of difficulty with the hot weather (~100F).
Surveillance_Egg_Unit
5 / 5 (2) Aug 06, 2018
Another good thing to have on your handlebar would be a solar-powered fan to cool off a mite bit when riding on hot asphalt. I have a new pair of solar sunglasses made by Bell & Howell. Makes a huge difference to block the strong UV where the road is seen better.
antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (2) Aug 07, 2018
Apparently solar panels don't work too well when the sun is out!

They do drop off in extreme heat - that's normal.
barakn
5 / 5 (1) Aug 08, 2018
Apparently solar panels don't work too well when the sun is out!

They do drop off in extreme heat - that's normal.

All it does is flatten out the production curve a bit, making it match the energy use curve better. In fact, many solar installers intentionally use lower-wattage inverters that lose some energy at noon in exchange for enhanced efficiency in morning and afternoon, thus producing more energy when it's actually needed and lowering the total installation cost. https://www.solar...l-arrays It's incredible how clueless crackpots will complain about well thought-out engineering decisions.

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