Solar E-Bike Charging Expands In Japan

Here’s a measure of the growing popularity of electric bicycles in Japan: Kyocera says it’s coming out with solar-powered charging stations specifically for the assisted-power two-wheelers.

This new product isn’t surprising, actually, given that earlier this year, Sanyo opened two solar-powered parking lots for bikes in Setagaya, Japan. While those large lots represented a hefty infrastructure investment — each is outfitted to charge 100 bicycles —  Kyocera’s new offering appears to be smaller and more adaptable. As pictured, the Solar Cycle Station consists of a shoulder-high wall of photovoltaic panels, maybe 10 yards in length, that could power a half-dozen bicycles. It’s easy to imagine retailers, transportation hubs, apartment complexes, schools and the like making use of such a charging station.

Kyocera Solar Cycle Station, charging for electric bicycles

image via Kyocera

Kyocera said it was inspired to create the Solar Cycle Station because “the popularity of electric bicycles has grown immensely” in Japan, as an alternative means of transportation in daily life but also through rental shops in tourist areas.

As for the question of what happens to these charging outlets at night or during persistently cloudy weather, Kyocera says not to worry: They can be connected to the regular power grid, allowing for continued service. The company also notes that in addition to having connections for electric bicycles, the stations come with conventional outlets that could be used as a power source during outages or emergencies.

Looking for green gadget gift ideas for this holiday season? We have you covered with our annual Green Gadgets Holiday Gift Guide – check it out now!

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.