20210812 10 25 01 ridesolar orig

Sustainable Tourism in Halifax

Ride Solar

6. Clean Water and Sanitation 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities 12. Responsible Consumption and Production 13. Climate Action

Overview

Ride Solar has decided to change the way tourists can explore Halifax, with both their pedal bus as well as boat cruises. The mission of Solar Ride is to provide people with a fun experience while also protecting our climate. They’ve done this by attaching solar equipment to both their boat and pedal bus to reduce cost and environmental impact.

Authors

Will Stone

Will Stone

Kate Leonard

Kate Leonard

Jack Watchorn

Jack Watchorn

Mattie Base

Mattie Base

School

Dalhousie University

Dalhousie University

Professors

Kent Williams

Kent Williams

Cassia Gohl

Cassia Gohl

Innovation

Ride Solar is Canada’s first SOLAR-Electric tours and transit system. Ride Solar allows customers to experience a unique adventure. Riders can enjoy a scenic ride through Halifax or Charlottetown with 6-14 friends while being eco-friendly! The buses and boats can run entirely on solar power, electricity, or both, leaving no pollution behind! The rides are “clean, green, quiet and fun (Ride Solar, 2022)!” It is easy to ride with adjustable seats and pedals for everyone. Solar Ride satisfies the 7th UN SDG, Affordable and Clean Energy, and the 11th UN SDG, Sustainable Cities and Communities.

In 2015, Steve Arnold met Peter Ixkes when they came up with the idea of a Ride Solar. Arnold had always wanted to start a local business in Halifax, and Peter had previously been in the energy-efficient homes industry (Arnold, 2022). With their combined knowledge, they wanted to stand out from the competition and take a more sustainable business route. The Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boat (RHIB) was bought from the Montreal World Fair and redesigned to be solar-powered. They added solar panels and incorporated solar technology into the pedal bus (Arnold, 2022).

This innovation is related to a sense of purpose and mission. The purpose of Ride Solar was to enable a new transportation method that incorporated entertainment and clean energy usage. While its mission was to give customers a choice to be sustainable and help make a difference for the environment.

Sustainable Tourism in Halifax

Inspiration

Steve Arnold and Peter Ixkes had a vision to help the ongoing government commitment to reduce provincial greenhouse gas emissions. Steve and Peter wanted to incorporate solar technology into a pedal bus. Before inventing the pedal bus, Steve Arnold and Peter Ixkes started their local business profiting off of the Isola Solaretto, a 40-passenger dinner cruise and tour boat. They were motivated by the fact that they were the only ones in the market creating Canada's first solar-electric tours & transit system with both land and water vehicles. The team always wanted to make a difference starting in 2015 when Steve built a rotating house that was the first in the world that accommodated guests on the main floor. A rotating house can be mechanically rotated to follow the best of the light throughout the day. The home's rotation also directs the home's solar panels towards the sun, for maximum energy gain. A rotating house can generate a reduction of almost 70% of electricity costs and 68% of CO2 emissions compared to a traditional house. Soon after Steve met Pete while Pete was a guest in the rotating house. After becoming partners, they redesigned the rigid-hulled inflatable boat adding solar panels, and later made the pedal bus with the ability to move under pedal power alone, under electric power alone, or using both to make pedaling easy for the guests. Steve and Peter say that between solar panels charging the batteries for the electric motor and some pedal power, while the guests move the bike a 1kW of solar panels on the roof power the TV, lights, sound system, & refrigerator on the bike generating clean energy and making a difference. They described that the direct sunlight provides the best conditions for solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. However, even in overcast conditions, light will diffuse through the clouds and reach the solar panels to generate electricity for the bike to run!

Overall impact

Ride Solar’s innovation has helped them become Canada’s first Solar-Electric tour and transit system with both water and land vehicles. With Ride Solar’s innovation, they have given their company a competitive advantage in the market based on their initiative to be sustainable. The touring industry in the future will need to transition to become more sustainable and Ride Solar has done this and has put themselves ahead of their competition. Their tour pedal bus can be powered on pedal power, electric power, or both at the same time, making the pedaling tour bus a lower emission way of getting around town. This low emission touring option has impacted society because it gives people the option to be sustainable. Nowadays, people are starting to shift their thinking to be more sustainable. By giving people the option to be sustainable, they can gain a larger market share because more and more consumers will begin to choose sustainable options instead of the unsustainable touring companies. If Ride Solar can gain a large market share, they will be able to force their competitors to think more sustainably, which was one of Ride Solar’s goals when making their business.



Regular touring companies use big busses or large boats which produce large amounts of carbon emissions. Ride Solar is pedal powered, or electric powered and has a solar panel on the roof to generate power for the tv, sound system, and refrigerator. Ride Solar will have the opportunity to exponentially lower emissions caused by touring companies because in the future more and more companies will become sustainable because of Ride Solar. The short-term effects of Ride Solar’s innovation are small in comparison to what the effect they will be able to have in the long-term are. The long-term effects of Ride Solar’s innovation could be a shift in mindset of the whole industry. If the whole industry starts to think sustainably, the carbon emissions coming from these companies would be reduced by a large amount. Overall, we are yet to see how much of an impact Ride Solar’s innovation could have on the touring industry or even on the motor vehicle industry. Based on their innovation, it would be surprising if the company didn’t have a huge impact on the industry as a whole.

Business benefit

Ride Solar has been able to capitalize on the business aspects of going sustainable. Specifically, Ride Solar has created more competition for the other tour businesses by providing customers with a sustainable alternative to touring. As people shift their focus on battling climate change, businesses with the old model of touring will struggle compared to companies like Ride Solar. Because Ride Solars' decision to be sustainable has forced other tourist companies to shift their excursions to be more ecofriendly. Steve was upfront about this during our interview and said that “it is a for profit business” (Arnold, 2022) meaning he is glad that he is playing his part in reducing our carbon footprint, but he also cares about the success of the company and believes that being sustainable has given them an edge over their competition.

Social and environmental benefit

The social and environmental benefits are quite simple. Steve did not have the exact figures with him about how much they cut their carbon emissions but between their boat and pedal bus tours their impact is large in Halifax and Charlottetown. Ride Solar has also had a social impact, Steve has really seen what word of mouth can do and how interested people are in doing sustainable tours. He hopes to keep growing his business and extend their reach further.

Interview

Steve Arnold, Co Owner

Keep this story going! Share below!

Ride Solar

Ride Solar

Halifax, Nova Scotia, CA

Business Website: https://www.ridesolar.com/halifax.html

Year Founded: 2015

Number of Employees: 2 to 10

Ride Solar has decided to change the way tourists can explore Halifax, with both their pedal bus as well as boat cruises. The mission of Solar Ride is to provide people with a fun experience while also protecting our climate. They’ve done this by attaching solar equipment to both their boat and pedal bus to reduce cost and environmental impact.