Dutch Take the World Solar Energy Challenge

Gliding in under the power of the Australian Sun, the winner of World Solar Challenge crossed the finish line in Adelaide, ending a three way struggle between Australia, the Netherlands, and the United States and breaking the record for the long distance solar car race.

Adelaide, Australia – October 23, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] Beating out a fleet of 22 solar cars from 10 countries, The Dutch car Nuna II reached the finish line at Angle Vale, Adelaide at 3.24 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, (Australian time) stripping one hour and 45 minutes from its previous world mark. Its average speed was estimated at 97 kph, compared with 91.8 kph in the 2001 event. The team’s world record time for driving a solar car from Darwin to Adelaide is officially 30 hours and 54 minutes. The particular demands of the World Solar Challenge stress the creative integration of technical and scientific expertise across a wide range of disciplines. Entrants crossed 3,010 km of the Australian continent from tropical Darwin to balmy Adelaide, in cars powered entirely by solar photovoltaic (PV) energy. Organizers said the event promotes and celebrates education and technical excellence, while drawing attention to the imperatives of sustainable transport. Chris Selwood, World Solar Challenge event manager, said the 2003 competition had attracted much international attention, with four overseas film crews covering the event. “Overseas interest in the challenge is stronger than ever,” Selwood said. “Using the sun to cross one of the harshest environments on the planet is the ultimate test of technology and endurance. This is the seventh world solar event and each time we see a marked improvement in the performance of the cars.” At the Nuna II’s finish time, the American MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) team was just 20 minutes behind Aurora. The winning Dutch car continued on to Victoria Square in the center of Adelaide where crowds cheered the team home. Australia’s own Aurora, from Victoria, reached the Angle Vale finishing line at 5.07pm, bettering its own record by 46 minutes. Aurora must now complete the 40 minute journey to Victoria Square in the morning under its own power. The Dutch team, based at the Technical University in Delft, made a number of crucial improvements to its Nuna II car since the 2001 event, improving aerodynamics and shape of the vehicle. Nuon Solar Team manager Diederik Kinds remarked earlier during the race on the new changes to the vehicle. “We have drastically changed the shape of the new vehicle to make it more aerodynamic, it’s lighter and the wheels have been placed further back to reduce the frontal surface,” Kinds said. “This is very fast for a solar car, but obviously we will need to conserve as much energy as possible during the race.” While the top cars have taken their places, the organizers expect slower cars to be coming in as far as Sunday. One of the unique requirements of the World Solar Challenge is that it is run in one stage. Once competitors left Darwin at 8 am on the first day, they are on their own. Apart from mandatory stops at the seven checkpoints, each team aims to travel as far as it can each day, but must make camp by 5 pm each evening. Chris Selwood, World Solar Challenge event manager, said the cars are of a higher standard than previous years, and the event is gaining worldwide clout. “This has been probably the most successful World Solar Challenge with all 22 teams still remaining in the event,” Selwood said. “A couple of teams encountered minor technical problems on day two but have been able to continue.”
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