Portable Solar Powered Charging Station for Electrical Scooters Case Study

Overview: 

The creation of electric vehicles has seen the rise of smart mobility options, such as electric scooters, electric bikes, and electric boards; presented by companies such as Lime and Bird. While these options present a healthier energy source as opposed to conventional gas vehicles, their electric power source may not be as environmentally conscious as they seem. Electric scooters are an energy-efficient way of transportation, however there are environmental, economic and safety concerns associated with the current charging practices. Scooter companies pay individuals to pick up scooters and charge them using their own vehicles to a designated charging spot. After charging, the scooters need to be placed back at a spot that is specified by the company. This sequence of charging is inefficient, time-consuming and introduces greenhouse gas emissions produced by the scooter transport vehicles. Scooter cluttering on pathways, sidewalks and other locations also presents a safety hazard. According to the “Calgary Electric Scooter Share Pilot” stakeholder report, from 9600 participants, about 29% believe that there is a need for safe infrastructure to park the scooters.

The objective of this mechanical engineering capstone project was to design a solar-powered charging station for electric scooters that would:

  • Promote the use of renewable energy sources
  • Improve the sustainability of electric vehicles
  • Meet the yearly demands of current electric scooter usage
  • Be cost effective, reaching the same or lower operational costs as current charging options
  • Be easily re-deployable, able to be installed and uninstalled according to usage demands
  • Reduce the current operational carbon emissions and increase safety of pedestrian roads

Outcomes: 

The team formed a partnership with Lime to design a station catered to their scooter needs. The objectives of the project were to:

1. Develop a charging station that meets the electrical demands of current yearly usage patterns.

2. Develop a charging station that is cost-effective, minimizes the collection and distribution costs of the current solution of using Juicers.

3. Develop a charging station that is seasonal yet robust. The station is to be installed in key locations during Spring and returned to storage in Fall.

4. Develop a charging station that is size-scalable, environmentally conscious, and sidewalk-space conscious.

Project objectives were met in the form of three main deliverables: Documentation, Modelling, and Simulations. Throughout the year, they conducted background research and a literature review on building codes, solar panels, actuation systems, charging station essentials, and the finances of the project. Then they developed a final model of the charging station and conducted simulations into the expected power output and overall impact studies to validate their design, which features double-axis actuation, algorithmic solar tracking, energy storage via battery and a spring-actuated scooter holder. The final design is fully off grid, capable of charging up to 16 scooters a day and can charge without the sun for at least 2 days using battery storage. Powering these vehicles with sustainable, renewable energy sources contributes to improving the overall health of the planet and working towards a green future.

Next Steps: 

The group was contacted by Lime sponsor and the University of Calgary for several opportunities to showcase our current project in different capacities. These showcases include speaking at the Standing Policy Committee on Transportation and Transit meeting regarding the Shared E-Bike and E-Scooter Pilot program, as well as taking part in a LiveWire Calgary interview, both of which have been included below. Additionally, the project placed as a semi-finalist group within the TELUS Innovation Challenge, as well as the Schneider Go Green Competition. Possible implementation of the charging station design will contribute towards the push towards greener transportation and ultimately, more sustainable cities.