Sasol’s annual Solar Challenge got underway in Pretoria today, with teams from across the globe competing in a race around the country. The race, which makes use of solar-powered engines and various other ways of efficiently driving cars, aims to promote the use of solar energy as a sustainable means of transportation.
Teams race around South Africa for about two weeks, which will take them through the North West province, down through the Free State, making a couple of turns in Cape Town and eventually ending back in Pretoria – a trip that spans over 5 400km.
While the majority of the racing teams are from Universities in South Africa, a number of teams from Japan and India have also entered. But the race is not just a typical point-to-point challenge – there is a technical aspect to it as well, as the race will be conducted in a time-trial manner.
It is impossible for all the vehicles to start at the same time, so each starts their journey at a specific time at the CSIR in Pretoria.
Derek Hanekom, Deputy Minister of Science and Technology, officially opened the race with the ceremonial cutting of the ribbon at the starting line, and jokingly adding that he would like to drive one of the Japanese cars.
He also added that South Africa has an abundance of sunshine, and that having a solar challenge in South Africa is a sensible thing, while praising the teams for their efforts and wished them luck on their journey.
“We are excited to see the race finally underway. This is the realisation of many months of hard planning and we trust that the teams will find the route challenging as well as fun,” said Winstone Jordaan, Sasol Solar Challenge race organiser. “This day is finally upon us and we’re excited to see the race unfold. This is a fine example of how we can see the benefits of harnessing the power of the sun and demonstrate the flexibility of solar power. We wish the teams the best of luck,” added Maurice Radebe, Group Executive, Sasol.
The first leg of the race starts at the CSIR in Pretoria and ends in Kuruman in the North Cape.
Charlie Fripp, Consumer Tech editor