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MIND YOUR BUSINESS: Brett Belan, CTO Apparent Energy

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Rogue Valley Messenger: Your company seems to be at an important crossroads of trends –with more and more household items dependent on batteries, and with a continued concern about sustainability. Any predictions for how people will get their energy for household items ten years from now—and from what sources.

Brett Belan: No doubt Ashland’s Apparent Energy is at the crossroads of trends. Not only is there a need for cleaner more sustainable energy, but there is a worldwide need for remote power. Small solar systems can keep lights on in remote villages for children to study by and for cottage industries to thrive. Also many people globally have cell phones, but no reliable way to charge them. We have identified a place we can help. We are now offering a component of the solar system to deliver more energy from solar panels to batteries. We feel that the third world can benefit most from solar power and battery improvement because of their unreliable grid.

RVM: And now solar-powered rickshaws. Why rickshaws? Where do you see these most in use? Who is the market?

BB: We also offer a way to increase battery bank life in Indian rickshaws by up to four times! These components, will have a huge impact on the lives of rickshaw drivers and village dwellers alike. Rickshaws are the preferred mode of transportation in most third world countries. However, they are terribly polluting and India in particular has demonstrated their environmental concern by putting aside much financial support for the development of electric rickshaws. We have the opportunity to increase the standard of living of millions….and access to a huge market to fuel our desire to do more.

At Apparent Energy we believe in Micro-Grid. We feel that because electric vehicles must hold the batteries…that we should keep them there. In the future we will plug our cars into our homes. We currently have two authentic Indian Rickshaws which have been retrofitted with a solar panel and two of our AE components. Just park them in the sun…and enjoy battery life far exceeding yesterdays’ lifetime. This means that a rickshaw driver who had to buy a whole new battery pack every six months can now go for two years! Also these rickshaws are now small power stations capable of lighting up entire villages.

RVM: You’ve designed a solar-powered VW bus.

BB: I am the CTO of Apparent Energy. (But) my passion for solar electric vehicles keeps me busy after work also. I have converted a 1973 VW transporter into a fully electric solar powered RV! I spent the whole month of July last year cruising the coast. 1400 miles later, my family and I were hooked. Currently I am replacing the battery bank with a pack which will take me from a 50 mile range to nearly 200 miles per charge!  I will be able to charge this bank in two days from the 3000 watts of solar I will be charging with. The time for the solar electric vehicle is here.

RVM: What motivates you?

BB: To some degree I am motivated by guilt. Everyone deserves the splendor of cruising through our beautiful country silently and charging whenever its time to stop and smell the roses…


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