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Ugandan engineers have built a solar-powered bus for Africa’s roads


Ugandan engineers have built a solar-powered electric bus that they say is a first of its kind in East Africa and think it will revolutionize the automative market in the region. The Kayoola, as its called, is a 35-seater that can run for up to 80 kilometers on two power banks that can also be recharged by solar panels installed on the roof of the bus.

Paul Musasizi, chief executive officer of Kiira Motors Corporation (KMC), the state-funded company behind the vehicle, says with the potential for solar power in Uganda, it only made sense that engineers started to leverage the energy source for cars.

“The bus is purely electric and our idea is to test the strength of solar energy in enabling people to move,” he told a local newspaper.


Nevada’s Solar Bait-and-Switch

In late December, Nevada’s Public Utilities Commission, which regulates Nevada’s energy market, announced a rate change drastic enough to kill Nevada’s booming rooftop solar market and drive providers out of the state. Effective Jan. 1, the new tariffs will gradually increase until they triple monthly fees that solar users pay to use the electric grid and cut by three-quarters users’ reimbursements for feeding electricity into it.

More startlingly, the commission made its decision retroactive. That means that the 17,000 Nevada residents who were lured into solar purchases by state-mandated one-time rebates of up to $23,000 suddenly discovered that they were victims of a bait-and-switch. They made the deals assuming that, allowing for inflation, their rates would stay constant over their contracts’ 20- to 30-year lifetimes; instead, they face the prospect of paying much more for electricity than if they had never made the change, even though they’re generating almost all their electricity themselves.


Massachusetts needs a robust solar energy industry: Reader viewpoint

Last year is officially and by far the hottest year on record, ending the brief reign of the year 2014, the previous title-holder. The deep oceans have warmed considerably beyond pre-industrial levels, most of the change occurring in the last 20 years.

That was the bleak climate news this week, and it is difficult to bear. Many of us, myself included, have in the past welcomed the doubt about climate change sowed in the media by self-interested fossil fuel industry-paid climate change deniers. We wished there were doubt, for our kids’ and our grandkids’ sakes. But nature is the ultimate arbiter and the verdict is in. All of us are affected by global warming, though some more than others: the poor without access to escape routes from the floods (read Hurricane Katrina) or unable to pay the rising prices of food and water in the face of drought.


What is holding back the growth of solar power?

Sixty years ago, the price of solar panels was astronomical. At a cost of $1,910 (£1,350) per watt in today’s money, the only practical use for them was in space on the US Vanguard 1 satellite, which launched in 1958.

But slowly and then precipitously the price of building a solar cell came down. Today it is less than $0.80 (£0.55) per watt. The subsequent proliferation of panels (especially in Europe, China, US and India) has tracked along the dizzying curve that eventually lead to the market domination of the car, the mobile phone and electricity itself.

Derick Lila
Derick is a Clark University graduate—and Fulbright alumni with a Master's Degree in Environmental Science, and Policy. He has over a decade of solar industry research, marketing, and content strategy experience.

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