Australian Solar race grows in global interest

Solar RaceImage: World Solar Challenge

In its 30th year the annual World Solar Challenge 2017 from October 8th to 15th is in Australia with the race set to take place between Darwin and Adelaide.

The 3000 km race which is described by event organizers as the “adventure of a lifetime” allows teams to show off their solar creations in one of three categories.

Once they have been placed in a class it is then up to the team to power their car using only the sun and a nominal 5 kilowatt (kW) hours of stored energy to help get them started.

The event has long been described as one of the hardest solar races in the world and is even set to feature in an IMAX movie later this year “Dream Big: Engineering Our World”.

A new challenger emerges

A group of highly talented students at RWTH Aachen University and Aachen University of Applied Sciences have taken on the World Solar Challenge this year for the first time.

They have joined a German company, Covestro to help build their innovative entry for this year’s competition the Sonnenwagen (German for “solar car”) as reported in Automotive World.

Solar Challenge

Image: World Solar Challenge

Markus Steilemann, Chief Commercial Officer of Covestro, saying of the project,

“As sustainability is part of our strategy, we support this ambitious project, in which young researchers want to show that innovative and sustainable mobility concepts are already possible today.”

“Solar mobility can make a key contribution to protecting the climate and conserving fossil resources.”

The team is apparently confident in their chances of winning despite currently being the only German car entered in the event.

History, 30 years in the making

The first World Solar Challenge took place in 1987 but its origins date back further to 1982 when Hans Tholstrup and Larry Perkins, in a home-built solar car Quiet Achiever drove across Australia from west to east.

As described by organizers of the event the race is important to the awareness and advancement of solar technology,

“These innovations are at the heart of all electric cars, whether that power comes from hydrogen fuel cells, hybrid engines or even fully-electric commuter cars that draw power from solar cells on the garage roof – they all use the technology that is continually honed to perfection in the World Solar Challenge.”