Sushil Reddy yesterday completed a full circle around Iceland on a solar-powered bicycle. Reddy’s journey began on Wednesday, Sept. 12, and took a total of 12 days. The trip was completely carbon neutral and stands as a testament to the strength and viability of clean energy sources (even in cloudy weather).

This isn’t Reddy’s first long-distance journey on a solar-powered bicycle—it’s his fourth. His world record 7,400 kilometre (4,598 miles) electric bike trip in the summer of 2016 lasted 79 days, and was part of an initiative to talk to people across India about solar energy and the potentials of green technology.

The Iceland journey is a part of Reddy’s larger clean energy initiative, Sun PedalRide. He used IKEA’s Folkvänlig electric bicycle with a Sladda trailer that was custom fitted with solar panels, and was supported by Luis Fourzan of the Iceland School of Energy, who followed him in a Volkswagen’s Golf, a popular electric car in Iceland.

“IKEA was one of the major sponsors, as was the CHARGE conference, which is currently happening in Reykjavik in the Harpa centre”, said Reddy. “They were the main guiding forces and partners behind the journey in Iceland.”

After approaching IKEA and CHARGE earlier this year, Reddy was inspired by their enthusiasm for the undertaking. “They were always supportive in terms of planning the entire ride in Iceland; I was very new to Iceland and needed information on how to go about planning the daily rides, particularly because of the weather,” he said.

“There were a lot of people involved, and it was successful in the end.”

An electric bicycle ride in Iceland.

Photo: Luis Fourzan, who supported Reddy on the trip.

But Isn’t Iceland Too Cloudy for Solar Power?

Reddy explained that the trailer attached to the electric bicycle is the key to the bike’s operation. He charged two batteries in the trailer using solar panels while a third battery, already fully charged, was used to power the bike itself. 

“You can travel extremely long distances without getting tired using clean energy.”

Iceland’s Ring Road is fitted with charging stations for passing vehicles. The charging stations are powered by Iceland’s main grid using geothermal and hydropower. When there wasn’t sufficient solar energy to power the electric bicycle, Reddy simply accessed the main grid.

He estimated that his electric bicycle relied 60% upon solar power and 40% upon the grid, thus remaining completely green.

“There’s no pollution at all,” he said.

An electric bicycle journey around Iceland.

Photo: Luis Fourzan. The electric bicycle ride was rainy, windy, and sometimes glacial.

Green Travel, Past and Future

When asked about his future plans, Reddy laughed: “I would love to go to South America, where there’s a lot of clean energy.”

A journey across a continent that’s nearly 200x the size of Iceland will take significant and precise planning, but Reddy is also organizing a smaller ride in one of the States in South India in the near future.