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Come and see ‘Sunrider’ and ‘Evolution’ – 30 years of UK Solar Car Development

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

The Sunrider Solar car will be exhibited at Swansea’s Festival of Transport on 19th June in the National Museum of Wales Waterfront Hall.

It will be displayed alongside Cambridge University’s Eco Racing car to show the evolution of solar cars over the last 30 years.

Representatives from both the Cambridge team and Sunrider team will be there so come and pay a visit.

We will also display a solar-powered carport and charging station with an electric vehicle, the likely future for solar powered vehicles.

The History

The Sunrider PV Powered Car set off from Athens on 21st June 1986 heading for Lisbon making the epic first crossing of Europe by Solar power. This event is a great opportunity to see UK engineering at its best. GB-Sol’s managing director led the project and will be attending the festival along with the other original team members. The sunrider project was undertaken by Cardiff University to demonstrate that PV power was usable beyond the scale of the desktop calculator, which was the only place most people came into contact with photovoltaic technology at the time.

Today

The Cambridge University Eco Racing Team recently competed in the World Solar Challenge and their solar car ‘Evolution’ completed the race across Australia where many cars fail. The development of PV cells and lightweight vehicles over 3 decades means that speeds have quadrupled. Electronic controllers and computer software are also vital in the improvements in energy efficiency and reliability shown by the ‘Evolution Car’ for more information see http://www.cuer.co.uk/. The eagle-eyed observer will note that to PV cells on both cars look a little different to those seen on our roofs these days, the output of a cell has doubled, and the cost has reduced to below a tenth over the period.

The Future

We are also going to display a solar powered carport and charging station with an electric vehicle to show that this is the likely future for solar powered vehicles. It’s a big change from the vehicle covered with photovoltaic cells designed 30 years ago, mainly due to the advances in battery technology over that time. The battery of the original Sunrider car was only sufficient to allow it pass through the occasional tunnel. Present-day batteries are large enough to power a vehicle for over 200 miles on a single charge. For more information about solar carports see http://www.gb-sol.co.uk/solar-carports.

The Festival

So if you’re in the area you can find more information about the festival at http://www.swanseatransportfest.co.uk/  and please come and talk to both teams about the engineering, technology and future of solar electric vehicles.