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University of Twente is researching solar powered e-bikes

Charge your bike as you cycle along. This is made possible by solar bikes, which have integrated solar cells into their wheels.

The University of Twente is carrying out research into solar powered e-bikes, focusing on their efficiency and on user satisfaction. The research project is part of the Living Smart Campus programme, in which the campus is used for scientific experiments. University of Twente staff are invited to participate in the ‘Solar powered e-bike’ project.

Professor Karst Geurs has this to say about the project: “In the Netherlands, e-bikes are already hugely popular. They are also a highly promising and sustainable alternative mode of transport. We still know very little about the use of different types of e-bikes, or about their impact on health, motorized transport, and bicycle use. Their technical performance is also poorly understood, as is the impact on mobility patterns of using solar energy to charge e-bikes, and people’s ‘charging’ behaviour. These are the areas we will be studying. We also want to know what users think of the solar bike.”


In the upcoming months, Professor Geurs is keen to recruit another eighty participants of the University of Twente staff for the test phase. Each subject will use one of five solar bikes for a week, to cycle to work.

From May onwards, in the context of the Living Smart Campus programme, another twenty members of staff are needed for a study into charging bicycles (either their own e-bike or a solar bike) using solar energy. In addition to solar bikes, the Living Smart Campus programme will investigate two other charging techniques. Besides charging while cycling, regular e-bike users can opt to use a solar charging system at home and a solar-charging system on campus. With all three variants, there is always the option of charging the battery in the traditional way, using mains electricity, if necessary.

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The solar bikes were developed by the Technical University of Eindhoven, as part of the ‘4TU.Bouw Lighthouse Solar Bike project,’ in which Professor Karst Geurs (Centre for Transport Studies) and Dr Pauline van den Berg (Urban Science and Systems, Eindhoven University of Technology) are involved.

Dr Angèle Reinders (ARISE) initiated the Living Smart Campus project ‘Solar powered e-bikes,’ in which Professor Srinivasan Keshav (University of Waterloo, Canada) is involved as well. Pablo Gaete Haller is participating in the project by conducting the research as part of his Master’s programme in Sustainable Energy Technology.


Various tests are carried out, during which data is collected and analysed. The goal is to identify the patterns of e-bike use, and these bikes’ potential benefits as a sustainable mobility system. According to Dr Angèle Reinders “Charging e-bikes with solar energy involves a twenty-fold cut in CO2 emissions compared to charging from the grid.”

Master’s student Pablo Gaete Haller recently visited the University of Waterloo, which, as a partner in the project, developed home charging stations together with the University of Twente. This Canadian university is conducting a similar research project, using its own staff. That enables these two institutions to share and compare data throughout the study. It also has potential in terms of postdoctoral research.


The ‘Solar powered e-bike’ project is part of the University of Twente’s Living Smart Campus programme, which is aimed at fulfilling the potential of the campus. The Living Smart Campus programme is a collection of campus development projects (involving education, research and/or the support departments) which use the campus as a living lab.

More information is available at:


Bertyl Lankhaar (+31 (0) 53 4892210 or +31 (0)6 20027435), spokesperson of the Executive Board of the University of Twente.

If you are a student and you would like to get involved in this research project please contact Karst Geurs or Angele Reinders.

Bertyl Lankhaar
Spokesperson Executive Board