Every two years local and foreign students have a race to see who can travel from Pretoria to Cape Town in the fastest time possible, using only solar energy.
The bi-annual event, dubbed the Sasol Solar Challenge, takes place again this weekend, with 14 teams driving as far as 4 000km to reach the finish line in their solar-powered creations.
“The Sasol Solar Challenge initiative is intended to encourage young people to achieve success in STEM subjects – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics,” explains the race’s official website.
“It helps educates young people in the principles of science, technology, engineering, innovation, teamwork and business; and promotes collaboration between students, industry and government.”
The last event in 2014 was won by The Netherlands’ Delft University Nuon Solar Team, who are returning this year in a bid to retain its crown.
It can take a good couple of years to gear up for the competition, and the University of Johannesburg (UJ) has been hard at work since early 2015.
In June last year the team took its Ilanga II vehicle on a mammoth fact-finding journey from South Africa to Botswana.
Over a planned 4 160 km drive the car’s team tested the vehicle’s long-distance capabilities and raised awareness about green technology in a series of lectures along the route.
While there will be some new teams most of the universities participating are returning competitors. All the teams are followed by support vehicles in the event that they break down.
The South African teams competing are:
- DSJ Solar Car Team – Deutsche Schule Johannesburg
- MUT Solar Team – Mangosuthu University of Technology
- Maragon Olympus – Maragon Private High School
- NWU Solar Car Team – North-West University
- PI 21 Solar Team – private team from Pretoria
- TUT Solar Car – Tshwane University of Technology
- UJ Solar Team – University of Johannesburg
- ZingCO Electric Vehicle – ZingCo
The race will start in Pretoria at the CSRI as early as 6am, and will finish in Cape Town at the V&A Waterfront on 8th October. You can follow all the action on the official Sasol Solar Challenge website.