Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Solar Technologies designed in India – Are they Practical and Sustainable?

I see various solar gadgets developed by Engineering College Students in India.

Some of them are:

The Solar Bicycle designed by the students of ITI; Tricycle developed by Jaya Prakash Narayan College of Engineering, Solar Scooty by a student of Arvindaksha Engineering College, Suryapet and The Solar Car designed by students of PSCMR College.

Here I give my critical analysis on each of these designs.

While I appreciate the thinking of your students, of late there is mad rush to project SOLAR GADGETS whether they work or not.

What tests your students conducted? Did they run it on Rough Roads? THE FIRST SOLAR CAR I SAW WAS FROM ISRAEL in 1970! It was a wonderful design.

Unless the Solar Cell Efficiency goes up with improved materials like Gallium Arsenide,Gallium Phosphide, Tandem, Organic Polymer, Solar PV is a far cry in Developing countries. The Government is wasting public money on this Uneconomical Technology whose efficiency is low. On the other hand, the efficiency of wind, bio-mass, micro hydel, etc is quite high and cost less compared to solar PV.

I have been advocating BIOFUEL FROM AGAVE and BIOGAS from OPUNTIA and Subsequent Power generation. In AP there are 45000 Sq.km waste lands.


COMMON SENSE is needed in designing such socially relevant technologies. It was stated that it can be used for Mobile Charging. I have Reading Lights, Solar Caps etc., DUAL POWERED) which can also charge MOBILES.

It is mentioned" Solar car can also be used for operating agricultural pump sets to water the crops". One should know the capacity of the so called SOLAR PUMPS which are capable for pumping water only from open wells and low depth borewells.

Comment by Anumakonda Jagadeesh:

The design is not practical. In the present design, students fitted bicycle tyres. They are not stable at high speeds. When the brake is applied the tricycle will overturn. This happened with petrol driven rickshaw designed long back which was a total failure.

One should never attach SOLAR PANELS to the Vehicles. Why Bullock cart wheels are large? When the Bullock cart carries high loads of hey and other goods, the centre of gravity falls within the base.

In designing of such things one should use more COMMON SENSE.

Sakshi (Telugu Daily) - Nalgonda Edition - April 9, 2013

Comment by Anumakonda Jagadeesh:

Why such a SOLAR PV Top is made? Doesn't the student (including the person who guided him) know that there is air resistance?

Why the Mud guard is conical shape? To move faster.

Why airplane front portion is narrow? In Japan when the fast trains were moving through the tunnel, there was a problem. They turned to nature and made the Rail Engine shape on the shape of nose of KING FISHER Bird.

The Solar PV Top structure occupies more space while parking as well as while on the road. If there is an accident the solar panel will kill the rider because of the weight and weak structure. First of all the student thought of simply putting up a solar panel will do. It will never. There has to be an integrated approach in designing such things as in Technology Social and cultural factors are as important as Technology.

The Battery is placed at the foot rest. No sensible person will do it. Where to put the legs? You see the picture how the rider has put his legs. Scooter is meant for a pleasant ride but not sad and difficult ride.

In our nasty roads this type of solar scooters can’t even go a few kilometers.
The Structure supporting the Solar Panel looks as if you are designing for a building!

Earlier there was 'ELECTRA SCOOTER' in the market but did not succeed because of our poor roads. Always the Solar panel has to be separate rather than attached to the Scooter. 

After charging only the battery is placed on the scooter. I have reviewed hundreds of designs of Solar Rickshaws, Solar Bicycles, Solar Motor bikes etc. In fact, SOLAR RIKSHAW WAS A TOTAL FAILURE. 

You may read my article in Science Reporter


Comment on 'Soleckshaw - CARBON concept in Social Engineering' in Carbon Outlook.

This Design Never Works 


This design never works. It suffers from basic knowledge how a Rikshaw works and commonsense about the efficiency of present Solar Cells. As already stated by me the advantage in the present traditional Rikshaw design is that it reduces the vertical force by having inclined body. That is why a Rikshaw puller takes half dozen elders and dozen school going children with ease.I don't know how the "GREAT BRAINS" missed this simple point. The body weighs a lot. The efficiency of solar cells available in the market is about 15 per cent. Earlier SOLAR CARS were introduced by ISRAEL in 70s itself,but where are they? CSIR will do well to thoroughly test the technologies they release otherwise the credibility of CSIR labs is lost. Once Some LAB of CSIR sold a process of TARTARIC ACID from Tamarind leaves. If you take green tamarind leaves,the tree won't grow. Dry leaves fly off. One Poor unemployed youth from Andhra Pradesh purchased this process. He was in distress. I suggested him to write to the then Director General of CSIR,Prof.Y.Nayudamma. He did. Prof. Nayudamma took the Director of the CSIR lab to task and got the money refunded.There are many processes that appear from CSIR Labs especially CBRI and CFTRI. How many of them commercialized What happened to Gunny bag cooling(Using solar energy to pump water to the top), Pan Supari Nectar, Instant Idly, etc.

The Laboratories of CSIR use public money. They should be judicious in their processes and designs for social purpose. Otherwise the credibility of CSIR will be at stake.



After reviewing useful comments on technology from Dr. Jagadeesh on a earlier published article, CMERI has specifically reduced weight below 100 kg, keeping pointed attention on Centre of Gravity of soleckshaw on road. Soleckshaw is recommended for 2 passengers, keeping in view the power assistance from Motor @ 250W.

Soleckshaw, dual power vehicle, is a concept to explore Solar Energy, which is still debatable about availability and cost effective. CSIR provide the vehicle with dual mode of charging for the alternative from Grid power. Your comments are valuable to Technology Development.


I am not discouraging the student. But such sensational news will defeat the technology and bring bad name to the student leave away the institute.

Here are Specifications of a Electric Scooter:

One will find at every stage the weight of the different parts is kept to the minimum while in the above SOLAR SCOOTY, it is reverse.

For guidance please visit for the solar designed mobility solutions: 

Comment by Anumakonda Jagadeesh:

Is not the area of the Solar panel results in Air Resistance and more energy to move forward? Why Train Engines are having nose shape. Infact Japanese Fast Trains adopted KINGFISHER BIRD NOSE SHAPE for the Engine. 

Common sense is needed rather that adoption of technology blindly. Solar Rikshaws/ solar Bicycles can never succeed in India because of congested and bad roads.


Solar Tricycles Vs Traditional Rickshaws in India

Are the so called fancy designs of Solar bicycles,tricycles,solar scooters work in developing countries? How reliable they are? More than technology they should meet social and cultural needs. How about rough and bumpy roads? Don’t they reduce the battery power considerably?

On the other hand how is it the manually operated rickshaws are still in use widely in many areas? Basically the manual rickshaw design stood the test of times. These designs can be incorporated in the Solar Rikshaws, bicycles and tricycles. 



Creativity, Innovation and Invention are the pillars of Development. 

Put the Renewables to Work: 

To get inexhaustible, pollution-free energy which cannot be misused.


All the above photos and pictures are sourced from internet.


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