A whopping 42 solar-powered cars participated in the 30th anniversary World Solar Challenge car race on October 8th in Darwin, Australia. Every 2 years student solar activists from around the globe have traveled to Australia to travel 3,000 kilometers, roughly 1,880 miles, in vehicles powered entirely by the sun. The race typically lasts a week, but front runners seem to be set to finish the course in record time this year.
The vehicles are engineered and constructed by hand by participating teams. These teams are comprised of college and high school students from more than 30 countries around the world. Each solar vehicle is permitted at most 5kW hours of stored energy, but the remaining energy must come from either the sun or kinetic energy from the vehicle itself.
Each day, vehicles may travel until 5:00 pm, at which point they must make camp until morning. Teams must reach 7 mandatory checkpoints, where they may check weather reports, change observers, and provide the most basic vehicle maintenance. This may include checking tire pressure or cleaning debris from the car.
Participating vehicles are categorized into 1 of 3 classes: the challenger class, the cruiser class, and the adventure class. The challenger class is built for speed, whereas the cruiser class serves as the regularity trial. The adventure class is composed of non-competitive participants and may include vehicles that were built for previous events.
Since the last World Solar Challenge race, which held in 2015, the rules have altered in order to reflect the recent advancements made in the world of solar technology. The challenger class, which was previously limited to 65 square feet of solar cells, is now limited to only 45 square feet. In 1987, the restrictions were twice as large, revealing just how far solar power has come in the past few decades.
With the rise in popularity in electric vehicles in recent years, these advancements in solar technology as it applies to cars is certainly promising for the future of transportation. While it may not be feasible to use vehicles entirely reliant on solar energy, (think of the trouble in cloudy climates), it is certainly within the realm of possibility to use solar power as a secondary source of energy.
Track the World Solar Challenge vehicles or learn more about the race at worldsolarchallenge.org.
To learn more about the recent advancements in solar technology and the potential impact on solar power in the home, talk to our specialists at Sea Bright Solar. Our solar panel installation specialists use only the best and we are happy to discuss what clean energy can do for your home or business.
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