A Day in the Life of Solar Energy Racers

By special request, here is another day in the life post, this time for Swiss solar car team Solar Energy Racers (SER). The day is 29 September, the last day of the Sasol Solar Challenge. I am relying on information from a blog by SER strategy person Georg Russ, together with GPS data screen-scraped off the race tracker by a friend, and elevation data from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission. As before, the horizontal axis of the chart represents distance.

The day began at Swellendam, and the team drove to the control stop at Bredasdorp, stopping there for 30 minutes the first time (it can be seen from the chart that SER was not quite so good as Nuon at maintaining a consistent speed). The team drove two loops, the first of them to Cape Agulhas (the southernmost point of the African continent, and the site of a picturesque lighthouse). It can be seen from the chart that they had to stop on the way (to repair a loose left rear wheel fairing – with duct tape, of course).

The team completed one more, shorter, loop, before heading on to the finish at Stellenbosch (Nuon drove that shorter loop three times). Knowing when to quit driving loops was an important strategy decision. The chart highlights the hilly nature of that final leg (going through part of the Cape Fold Belt), as well as some stops to change drivers.

Georg Russ notes an energy output for the day of 5.35 kWh (with 0.64 kWh recovered), and a photovoltaic input of 4.63 kWh, giving a net battery drain of 0.08 kWh. Pretty good!


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4 thoughts on “A Day in the Life of Solar Energy Racers

  1. Well, thanks for mentioning me 🙂 We were on a “safety speed” since day six because we had lost the canopy due to heavy winds on the fifth day. So we didn’t have any energy problems. We would have liked to empty the battery towards the end of the race (higher speeds or more kilometers) but it was impossible with a safety speed of around 60km/h and the sun shining. So the “pretty good” in your last paragraph is actually quite the opposite. But anyway, it wouldn’t have made much of a difference in the final standings.

    • I wish I had discovered your blog earlier! I was aware of the canopy loss, but not of the safety speed restriction (I don’t actually read German – es tut mir leid).

      My “pretty good” in the last paragraph was intended as a positive comment on the efficiency of the vehicle. Since the car has more “legs” than this race suggests, you should do very well in future competitions.

  2. Well, I’m doing my blog mainly for myself, but at this challenge most of the team read my nightly blog posts 🙂 I will do a longer talk and have to prepare more data from the car for that. It will probably be like this about the 2013 race: https://dc.georgruss.ch/2016/01/28/re-post-ser2-wsc2013-english-article/

    If we were to compete at the 2019 WSC, I would expect us to be around the 6th place (judging by your charts and our speeds/consumption values so far). We’re still heavily looking for sponsors and thus haven’t decided if we’re going to Australia next year. Nevertheless, the car is built to WSC specifications.

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