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Around the world on zero emissions

Matt Terrell
Vail, CO Colorado
Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyLouis Palmer waves as he drives by in his solar taxi, which powered entirely by the sun. The taxi, on a world tour, goes 55 mph at top speed.
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MINTURN, Colorado ” Louis Palmer has driven thousands of miles through Europe, the Middle East, India, China, Australia, New Zealand and now Minturn, Colorado. He hasn’t spent a dime on gasoline.

His car is the “Solar Taxi.” It’s a sleek blue machine that sits low to the road, doesn’t make a sound while running and pulls a trailer covered in solar panels. The sun is his fuel, and there aren’t any earth warming carbon emissions pluming out a tail pipe.

The solar taxi will be the first solar-powered vehicle to circumnavigate the globe. Palmer, the visionary and leader of the tour, said the big mission is to “show the people of the world that global warming can be stopped, and we can be independent from fossil fuels.”

Palmer and his team began their journey on July 3, 2007, in Lucerne, Switzerland. They’re planning to make it through 40 different countries on five different continents and end the tour at the World Climate Change Conference in Poland in December.

On Friday, the Solar Taxi team stopped in Minturn for lunch at the Turntable. They were getting ready to head over Vail Pass ” their highest elevation point for the whole trip. The next stop is Denver, then they’ll be driving through the Midwest, Washington D.C., New York and ending the North American jaunt in Montreal.

So far, the solar car is performing quite well, Palmer said. It can get up to 55 miles per hour, and is handling the mountain roads fine.

If the car needs to drive more than 100 kilometers a day, they have to charge the battery with additional power, which is just a matter of plugging it into an outlet. To help with that, they have a solar power plant on a rooftop in Berne, Switzerland, that puts solar-generated electricity back into the grid.

This means a zero-carbon emissions trip. Palmer says that this car shows that the technology and ability to drive without depending on fossil fuels exists and that solutions to the world’s energy problems are out there.

And if you aren’t sold on the environmental pluses ” listen to the economics. He said about a dollar’s worth of electricity is enough to power the car for 100 miles. Think of that next time you fork over 50 bucks for a fill-up.

Louis Palmer calls his solar-powered car the “Solar Taxi” because he likes to take people on educational rides. More than 1,000 people have ridden with him, including world celebrities like Jay Leno. To more about the Solar Taxi’s global odyssey, visit http://www.solartaxi.com.

Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 970-748-2955 or mterrell@vaildaily.com.


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