World Solar Challenge: Weather in Darwin

One very helpful input to race strategy in a solar car race is weather expertise. How much sunshine can we expect? And when can we expect it? In 2013, Solar Team Twente took along an expert from the Joint Meteorological Group of the Royal Netherlands Air Force to help with that. This year, Punch Powertrain Solar Team (team 8) is taking along an expert from the the Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium, who will be blogging his insights and experiences.

For those without his specialist expertise, forget everything you thought you knew about Spring and Summer, Autumn and Winter. Darwin has 7 seasons, as the Larrakia People tell us, and the World Solar Challenge begins towards the end of Dalirrgang (the “Build Up” – click image above for multimedia tutorial). Dalirrgang is a kind of overture to the rainy season (the “Wet”). Traditionally, Dalirrgang is the time to hunt the Magpie goose (photo by Djambalawa below).

Long-term weather forecasts suggest that the World Solar Challenge this year might in fact begin on a partly sunny day, with a little rain, but that’s very uncertain, this far ahead.

WSC: Solar Team Twente in the news

The Haaksberger Koerier, local newspaper of a small town in the Twente region of the Netherlands, has run an interview (a, b) with Elise Nannings (above), the communications manager of Solar Team Twente (team 21). After completing a degree in Psychology, Elise began a Masters degree in Communication Science, but has put her studies on hold since September 2014 to work full time on Solar Team activities, including media and sponsorship. She compares that past year to being thrown into a pressure cooker, but comments that, in that time, the varied members of Solar Team Twente have formed themselves into a good team. When the race starts on October 18, Elise will be riding in the team’s media car. Hopefully, she’ll have good news to report on their progress!

World Solar Challenge: Team 42

42  TAFE SA (Solar Spirit)

The team from Technical and Further Education South Australia ran Solar Spirit (the third car of that name) in the 2013 WSC Cruiser class. This year they plan to run the same (but repainted & renumbered) car in the Adventure class. St Patrick’s Technical College is also involved with the team, and their video below shows the car in action. Along with team 33, this is one of two teams from the vocational education sector. Good luck, team 42!

The other WSC Adventure class teams are:

For up-to-date lists of all World Solar Challenge 2015 teams, see:

Where the trees are

A recent paper in Nature reports that the Earth has about 3,040,000,000,000 trees – about 420 trees per man, woman, and child on the planet. Unfortunately, that number is dropping by about 0.5% every year, which is not good news. See the summary of the story for details.

Here (courtesy of NASA, Robert Simmon, and the Woods Hole Research Center) is where the trees are in the USA:

World Solar Challenge: Team 10

10  Tokai University Solar Car Team (Tokai Challenger)

The team from Tokai University won the World Solar Challenge in 2009 and 2011, after four straight Nuon wins. In 2013, however, Nuon fought back, leaving Tokai in 2nd place. Since then, Tokai has won the 2014 Carrera Solar Atacama and has come 7th in the Abu Dhabi Solar Challenge. This year, they are no doubt hoping to recapture first place in the WSC with their new car (above and below). Technical details of the vehicle (in Japanese) are here. In particular, they report solar cells of 23.2% efficiency. Good luck, team 10!

For up-to-date lists of all World Solar Challenge 2015 teams, see:

World Solar Challenge: team status update

Just a quick update on the first World Solar Challenge teams to arrive in Australia. Solar Team Eindhoven (team 40) are, I understand, in Glendambo. Lead elements of Michigan (team 2) are on the ground in Adelaide. The first section of Nuon Solar Team (team 3) should be arriving in Australia very soon, while lead elements of Solar Team Twente (team 21) should be about to board, or have recently boarded, a flight to Australia.

Other teams are in the midst of preparation activities back home, although I must confess to being a little nervous about whether Universidad de La Serena / Antakari (team 4), R.V. College of Engineering (team 27), or Tehran (team 38) will make it – they have all gone a little quiet.

The map below shows current team locations. Green icons are Australian teams. Icons are clickable and have mouseover explanations (the picture and HTML image map were produced in R).

World Solar Challenge: Team 18

18  MARA University of Technology / EcoPhoton Solar Team (Stingray)

The team from the Shah Alam campus of Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) are first-time participants in the WSC this year, and Stingray is their first solar car. However, they seem to have learned much from other teams out there, and their poster below shows technical details of their vehicle. The car looks good as well. Good luck, team 18!

For up-to-date lists of all World Solar Challenge 2015 teams, see: