Sanyo’s just finished installing the bicycle sheds of the future: “Solar Parking Lots” that capture sunlight and turn it into electricity to charge up 40 electric bikes parked beneath. Shelter, green power, and the health-benefits of bicycling, all in one place.
The two sheds are found in Setagaya, Tokyo, and they’re designed to work with Sanyo’s own Eneloop bicycles. During sunny hours, the incident solar radiation is converted to electrical charge by photovoltaic panels, which either feed the bike’s batteries directly, or charge up an array of six lithium ion-based “Standard Battery Systems For Power Storage” for later connection to the bicycles.
Furthermore, the solar power is used to illuminate the sheds with low power-drain LEDs for safety and convenience at night. Though the bicycles themselves are indeed electrically-powered, perfect for short range commutes that may reduce the CO2 burden of city traffic, they’re also pedal-powered for the steeper inclines or when the batteries run out, which brings health benefits. And the cabinets housing the shed’s lithium batteries also contain the necessary power converters to generate a mains voltage AC supply, meaning that in an emergency, devices requiring a mains connection can be quickly hooked up without having to search for a power source.
As a green solution, it’s hard to fault the design. So you can probably expect to see self-contained systems like this popping up to replace the currently-booming rental city-bikes services in the years to come.