Academic journal article The American Biology Teacher

Solartaxi

Academic journal article The American Biology Teacher

Solartaxi

Article excerpt

Solartaxi (to be shown on PBS in spring 2012 and released as a DVD after that; a Non Square Pigs Films production, directed by Erik Schmitt; 75 minutes)

Twenty-seven years ago, a Swiss schoolboy named Louis Palmer imagined a car that ran completely on solar power. In his fantasy, he circumnavigated the globe without using a drop of petrol, as gas is known in Europe. By 2004, the solartaxi was a reality, with Palmer, now a schoolteacher, as designer and director, aided by the donation of special batteries by a Swiss company. Starting in 2007, the fully solar-powered car, driven by Palmer and accompanied by a mechanic, support vehicle, and crew, covered 54,000 miles across 38 countries in 18 months: a remarkable accomplishment that students will not fail to appreciate. Eric Schmitt has directed a rollicking, informative, vastly entertaining, and relevant documentary about Palmer, who was honored with the 2009 European Solar Prize for his achievements. Since Solartaxi, the intrepid Palmer has driven around the world in 80 days as part of the ZERO Race, along with three other 100% electric vehicles running on renewable energies.

Could it be possible for the childhood dreams of a schoolteacher to presage the future of the internal combustion engine? Palmer predicts that eventually (sooner, rather than later) there will be an international solar bank, which will bank solar energy instead of cash. People living in solar-paneled houses, as depositors of solar energy into the local power grid, could withdraw energy from a solar bank just as they withdraw cash from a traditional bank. …

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