The first made-in-the-UAE solar-powered car was unveiled on Sunday night to celebrate World Environment Day.
Capable of travelling at a speed of 45km per hour, the car was designed by the Lootah Technical Centre in Dubai and put on show at celebratory event held with the Minister of Environment and Water, Rashid Bin Fahd.
"We want to generate excitement about solar cars. This is a zero footprint, zero emissions car that can sustain itself with no battery," said Denis Lefrancois, general manager, Sustainable Media Group, a joint venture of Globe Events and Lootah International.
"We need to get everybody involved in a very big way. We wanted to build a car like this to show how it works but we could open it up to universities to come with ideas to improve it," he said.
The small fibreglass car weighs 170kg but has no air conditioning. "It is a basic solar powered car.
We started building it about five months ago but plans started much much earlier than that."
Solar energy advocate Louis Palmer, 39, from Switzerland unveiled the car after he himself undertook two round-the-world trips in solar powered electric cars. He believes electric cars are the cars of the future.
"The technology is reliable and ready for everyday life," he said. His 220-volt vehicle has taken him across the globe to demonstrate how ‘powerful and reliable' such vehicles can be.
As food prices spike globally, using crops to make biofuel is no longer a good option, he said.
"Fuel or food is not a good question, we have better biomass products to use instead but there is not enough to power all the cars in the world, but renewable energy sources are unlimited," said Palmer.
A teacher by profession, Palmer is now dedicated to ‘teaching the world' about renewable energy and transport. He drives a hybrid car at home and saves the electric car for special weekend outings and conferences, such as last night's event to celebrate organised by EPIC Dubai Sustainable Living Expo, in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Dubai Events and Promotions Establishment (DEPE).
"Each person can generate the electricity needed through solar so that we do not need to rely on nuclear or coal," he said. According to Palmer a small home array of solar panels measuring 10 square metres can generate enough electricity to drive 15,000km and would demand an initial investment of 3000 euros.
Palmer previously came to the UAE in 2008 in his Solar Taxi, a solar powered car, on a world circumnavigation powered entirely by the sun.
He organised and took part in the Zero Emission Race, circumnavigating the globe for a second time from August 2010 to February 2011. "Some cars in the race could be in the market and reach 260km per hour.
All you do is plug in and charge and as electricity is available everywhere, it's very easy to get around.
There is no need for petrol stations," he said.
Each team has to produce their own electricity using renewable sources that is fed into their home country's grid system, so that during the race, the equivalent could be harnessed to power the vehicles on their journey.
The UAE-made solar car will be on show at the EPIC Dubai Sustainable Living Expo, which will take place from June 22-25 in Dubai Mall. On show will also be eco-friendly products and solutions.
"We would like people to know that you have choices and you don't have to give up style or quality," said John Wiebe, president and chief executive officer, Globe Group which runs EPIC events based in Canada.
"This is the first year we are doing it here, it's trial and error. We hope that it will showcase to the rest of the region as well what sustainable products are out there," he said.
From / Gulf News