In most cases, research and innovation has been left in the hands of individuals who are at an advanced age of their career and have significant subdividing at their disposal. But it is interesting to observe how quite a number of young people are making significant contribution to research and innovation in the field of renewable energy in general and solar energy in particular.
One such example is participation in the World Solar Challenge.
The World Solar Challenge was founded with the objective of promoting research on solar-powered cars. Teams from both enterprises and universities from all over the world compete under a strict criteria and rules. The following are the parameters that are used to determine the winning team:
– Crossing the official finish line under solar power alone.
-Adherence to the conventional traffic rules.
-Two to four drivers.
-Checkpoint through the race.
-Endurance on the harsh environment.
Adelaide University Solar Electric Car Project Team.
A group of thirteen students from the University of Adelaide have teamed up to produce a solar powred car. The team says that its objective is to build the ultimate solar race car. Aaron Russell- the team’s Managing Director-says that at the moment, Australia and the world does not have a sustainable car in terms of cost of the solar powered car and it is an opportune time that one was available. He also adds that the increase in the fuel price coupled with the increasing environmental consciousness will make the use of solar powered cars a more viable option.
The car has been named Lumen. It has several features. It is designed as a high efficiency and low energy car in order to fit the rules and expectations of the World Solar Challenge competition. It contains advanced aerodynamics features and less weight due to a minimal chassis. The team benefits from the supply of tyres by Bridgestone company which has a solid reputation in the manufacture of high quality tyres. The car is designed in a way that it will successfully compete in the 3000 km race from Darwin to Adelaide safely and without technical problems.
Challenges and Opportunities
The team had predicted a number of challenges that would come their way in the ambitious project. This is a highly demanding project that comes at a time when they are still students (honours students). The team has countered this through creating more time for both studies and the projects. The students have also aimed at having the rolling chassis produced by the end of the semester in order to allow enough time for testing and optimization.
The students realized that they would need sufficient funding in order to roll out the project successfully. As a response, they embarked on an aggressive funding solicitation and reached out to people of goodwill. They also exploited that fact that the project has national support and therefore most Australians would feel comfortable supporting the project. The students also realized that the project will be promoting the name of Australia as a country that is sensitive to creating a clean energy atmosphere.
A Win Win Scenario
Whether the team will win or not, they will have made a milestone in solar energy applications and will also have made a significant contribution to the use of renewable energy applications and the eventual use of solar powered cars. After the project, there is all the likelihood that the students will be ambassadors of renewable energy and will offer their knowledge and contribution on the same in the careers that they will undertake. Overall, the project is a manifestation that everyone including the young people have a positive role to play in promoting the use of renewable energy solutions.
See the Kickstarter funding campaign for this solar car here
Gordon's expertise in the area of industrial energy efficiency and alternative energy. He is an experienced electrical engineer with a Masters degree in Alternative Energy technology. He is the co-founder of several renewable energy media sites including Solar Thermal Magazine.