Solar cars get ready to race
Posted by Car Geek on September 30, 2007
The World Solar Challenge is celebrating 20 years this year, and continues to go from strength to strength with renewed interest in sustainable transport, as well as continued improvements in technology that have seen the speeds of these vehicles more than double in the two decades that the competition has been running.
The event, in which teams design and build a vehicle capable of running purely on solar power and race them for 3000 km from Darwin to Adelaide across some of Australia’s harshest environments, will run from October 21 to 28 and attracts teams from high schools, universities and research groups around the world. Sixty-one teams from twenty countries will compete this year, with the event expanding to promote sustainable combustion-engine vehicles in its Greenfleet Technology Class as well as prototype experimental vehicles, such as the University of South Australia’s “Trev” electric vehicle and the H2Solar hybrid vehicle from Japan’s Team JonaSun.
The steady increase in solar panel efficiency over the last two decades has helped the competition, with event director Chris Selwood saying that the solar panels being used are twice as efficient as they were when the event started.
“Certainly 20 years ago, most photovoltaic cells were in the realms of experimental devices,” he said. “Winning speed was 67km/h average in the first event.
“At the last event in 2005, the winning team averaged 103km/h and clicked a maximum speed of 147km/h at one point.
“We are now trying to bring some practical attributes to the solar car, that people can get in and out themselves and sit upright.”
Anyone interested in watching the race, or participating in the 2009 event, can find information through the World Solar Challenge website.