Sana Ahmed, staff writer
April 25, 2011 — Solar car enthusiast takes on a worthy cause.
With the overarching presence of oil-based energy, reliance on alternative solutions is far from being the norm. But slow and steady changes are beginning to alter this landscape.
Self-proclaimed Project Catalyst, Marcelo da Luz, is one person who’s trying to make some headway with the use of solar-powered cars.
“I want to promote the use of clean, sustainable energy,” says Brazilian-born da Luz. “I designed and built a solar car. The reason why I’ve embraced the solar car is because it takes two fronts: energy and transportation, and we are so dependent on both.”
Currently, in Ontario it is extremely difficult to drive a solar-powered car. The reason why officials have deemed it as such is because of an accident involving a solar-powered vehicle a few years ago. In 2004, a student at the University of Toronto was driving a solar-powered car and was involved in a head-on collision after losing control and swerving over the centre line. The 21-year-old was rushed to hospital, but could not be saved.
Although the moratorium has been lifted, the Ontario government still has heavy restrictions in place, such as getting permits for high-traffic areas.
“Yes, there was a tragic accident in 2004,” says Rob Stoyan, an ardent supporter of da Luz. “But if we had banned airplane and car travel every time there was an accident, we know how many people would be affected.”
Da Luz is hoping to change this. In his efforts to rally for this cause, he decided to unplug his solar-powered car and walk from Niagara Falls to Toronto. He ultimately ended up at the doorstep of Ontario’s Transportation Minister and asked for a re-evaluation for laws on solar-powered vehicles. A meeting between the two parties is in the works.
Experts weren't the only ones that built the solar-powered vehicle. In fact, it was people from all walks of life who helped him achieve his goal.
“What inspired me to begin the project was a solar car race in Australia and I thought ‘how cool is that.’ Cars powered by light – that’s the future and I wanted to be part of it.”
The auto industry has also started to react to this new energy by building alternative vehicles. But it’s certainly difficult for solar-powered cars to survive in the face of oil-based energy.
“There are some changes coming, but we need government to keep up with individuals and corporations,” says Stoyan.
Da Luz is optimistic that things will change for the better.
“I believe we have to take ownership, we have to take responsibility and do whatever we can to help protect the environment,” he says. “I want people to be able to enjoy life and I want us to develop a balanced co-existence with nature.”