Asia Minute: Australia’s Solar Energy Car Race

Oct 19, 2015

Credit Nuon Solar Team / Flickr

An unusual auto race is underway this week in Australia.  The course covers more than 18,000miles, and every single vehicle is powered by solar energy.  HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

46 cars from 25 countries are racing across Australia in the World Solar Challenge.  The drivers set off Sunday from Darwin, in the Northern Territory.  They’re heading nearly due south---through desert country, and all the way to Adelaide - in the state of South Australia.  They drive during the day time to make use of that solar power - and then everyone stops at 5 in the afternoon and makes camp in the desert.

Some of the vehicles look like modified cars - while others actually seem a bit closer to space ships on wheels.  The rules are fairly simple—each vehicle uses solar panels - contestants are allowed to use as much as six square meters of panels that’s about 64 and a half feet.  How those panels are deployed is up to each team.

The initial idea for this came up in the early 19-80’s - when a pair of solar early adapters drove their homemade car “Quiet Avenger” across Australia—moving from west to east.  The competition has been held every two years since 1987 and draws entries from universities, technical schools and entrepreneurs from all over the world.

The defending champion comes from the Netherlands - while the first and the fastest in this year’s race are expected to start crossing the finish line on Wednesday.