Solar Cars

Klingshield Technical Department
Johannesburg South Africa June 2011

Over the past 4 decades Klingshield has been involved in solar energy technology and will continue to show an interest in all new solar energy projects and renewable energy projects.

It is with interest that we read in Engineering News that South Africa is involved in a “solar challenge” car race which runs from Pretoria to Cape Town.This is the second such event to take place in our country. These vehicles run solely on the energy from the sun and it is interesting to read that the champion car was from the Tokai University in Japan, competing in the challenge class, travelling 4061 kms, the longest distance on solar power in a South African event. This vehicle reached speeds of 120km/hour and travelled a distance of 565 kms in one day. South Africa’s entry vehicle covered a distance of 728 kms in a day, setting a new record. Other contestants from Germany travelled the furthest distance on solar power, of 483 kms.

The event was organised by the Advanced Energy Foundation. Further challenges have been issued across the world to build solar energy cars. The competition was open to all road vehicles utilising solar energy. Hybrid combination cars also featured, combining hydrogen fuel cells with electric motors, which reduces emission significantly.

Ten records were actually set during this recent car race. It won’t be surprising to see cars completely covered in photovoltaic technology, utilising the radiation of the sun to run cars in the future.

Much attention and buzz has been focused on hybrid cars by the media and it is interesting to note that the manufacturers are making hybrid cars that run on petrol engine as well as electric motor. However manufacturers, Toyota, with their Toyota “plug-in” hybrid as displayed at the Paris Motor Show, announced that the car can only run on the electric mode only if required.

South Africa needs to work hard on a new energy spark as it has made commitments to the world to reduce the CO2 emission.

On the subject of energy tie-up and renewable energy, Engineering News once again announces a partnership between South Africa and a Chinese renewable energy company called Mulilo Renewable Energy to develop wind farms to assist in coping with South Africa’s increasing power demands. The new partnership which has been finalised during a Cape Town summit involved more than 60 delegates from 10 Chinese Companies and South African Government and Business leaders.

Once everything has been finalised the parties will be committed to producing energy from wind power within 12 months. It looks like the Chinese will be the largest renewable energy provider in the world within the next 3 years as discussed in Cape Town, as the Chinese have pledged huge funds to these projects.

It is also reported by Engineering News that the COEGA Industrial Development Zone aims to develop 3 wind farms which will accommodate 60 turbines on 300 hectares of land. A Belgium company has invested 1.2b in this project and these turbines will have the capacity to power enough energy for 1700 households.

The pilot wind farm was erected in May 2010 at Coega IDZ. In time, wind and solar farms will be the order of the day. 

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