Held every two years, under the auspices of Motorsport South Africa and the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), the event is a collaborative initiative between university students, lecturers, scholars, private individuals and various industry and government partners.
SolarWorldAfrica will supplysolar electricity to the state-of-the-art 5.8m x 1.8m Sasol caravan which is fully furnished with computers, printers and other office equipment to serve as the race office over the 5 400kilometer race.
Gregor Küpper, Managing Director of SolarWorld Africa explains: “We are delighted to advance solar mobility in South Africa by powering the administration and communication system for this exciting initiative. Italigns with our vision of building a reliable, environmentally friendly energy supply worldwide.”
11national and international teams in 2014
Following months of hard work creating innovative designs and building their own engineering systems, teams will come together for the ultimate challenge of driving a solar powered vehicles across some of the most grueling terrain in South Africa.
This year, 11 local and international teams, including six local universities and two schools are participating from Cape Town, Tshwane, Johannesburg, KwaZulu-Natal, Potchefstroom – as well as teams from Cyprus, Turkey, Iran and Netherlands. Entrants include the ilanga II ("the sun" in isiZulu), solar car project of the University of Johannesburg (UJ), the Volkswagen sponsored solar car of Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU), iKlwa, the UKZN car named after a short spear used by the Zulu warriors and the Parhelion built by Wits University’s School of Mechanical, Industrial and Aeronautical Engineering.
Global record by SolarWorld GT
SolarWorld also sponsors the SolarWorld No. 1 solar car that has been developed by theUniversity of Applied Science Bochum Solar Car Team and sponsored the SolarWorld GT, the first-ever solar car to circumnavigate the globe in 414 days. In 2011/2012, the SolarWorld GT travelled across four continents and 16 countries over a distance of more than 29 000 kilometres reaching a top speed of 100km/h.
Gregor Küppe rpoints out: “Through oursponsorship of the Sasol Solar Challenge in South Africa, we have started a dialogue which holds enormous potential for collaboration, knowledge transfer and innovation in global solar mobility. This will help put South African solar innovation on the map.”
200 Schools involved
According to Richard Hughes, Sasol Sponsorship Manager, the local event is an exciting display of the power and flexibility of renewable energy in action and encourages young minds to become engaged in engineering, science, business practices and teamwork.
The initiative includes a schools engagement programme along the route, boosting and encouraging the development of the much sought after skills of science, technology, engineering and maths. The formal programme will involve 200 schools on the route.
The education programme material consists of a kit which explains how solar-powered vehicles work and material that enables learners to build their own model solarpowered car. Learners will race their cars, competing against other schools in the hopes of being the fastest solar team.
To raise awareness of solar power and promote local industry development SolarWorld also sponsored TEDex Cape Town 2013, Intaka Island’s Environmental Education Centre, a World Design Capital Cape Town 2014 project and the ‘Handball Roadshow’ in South Africa.
Gregorexplains: “Through initiatives like this race, there is enormous potential for incremental and disruptive innovation.” As a recognised and respected leading global player, it is important for SolarWorld to help speed up the pace of local technological development and educate consumers for greater market absorption of solar power.
Supporting local design innovation
In conclusion Gregor says: “At this stage of South Africa’s market development, incentives and the right signals have to be given to the next generation of scientists and engineers to facilitate skills development and transfer of knowledge to enable local innovation.”