The Abu Dhabi Solar Challenge was just launched this week in the UAE*. As with many things in the UAE, the Abu Dhabi Solar Challenge launches onto the global stage with a superlative. It will be the first solar car race in the Middle East.
“Navigating the entire country, the 1,200km ADSC will start and finish in Abu Dhabi and take place from the 16-19 January, 2015. The race will coincide with Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week and end at the opening ceremony of the World Future Energy Summit,” a news release noted.
“Sanctioned by the International Solarcar Federation (ISF) and jointly organized by Global EEE and Professional Sports Group, the challenge will attract over 20 of the top university solar car teams from Australia, Europe, America and Asia. The teams will travel from across the world to compete in the cross-country event similar to the World Solar Challenge in Australia and the American Solar Challenge in the USA.”
The World Solar Challenge in Australia was recognized at the press conference for its pioneering leadership as the first solar car race in the world. Mr Hans Tholstrup, President of ISF and one of the speakers at the conference, was the first known person to build a solar car and organized the first Australia Solar Challenge back in 1987. Directly or indirectly, his leadership has been the inspiration for all solar car races to follow. Dr Nabih Bedewl, Director of the Abu Dhabi Solar Challenge, noted that Mr Tholstrup was told by numerous people before building his first solar car that it was impossible. Impossible, indeed….
One very interesting point I caught at the press conference was that the teams behind these solar cars are, alongside NASA, the biggest buyers of high-efficiency solar cells in the world. This has helped to advance the development of higher-efficiency solar cells and is likely to have an impact on more conventional solar cells down the road (no pun intended). With about 500 universities and thousands of students building these solar cars, Dr Nabih Bedewl noted that this is providing a great service in the continued research and development of solar cells. So, it’s not just about a bit of fun.
For more info, check out the Abu Dhabi Solar Challenge website.
*Disclosure: My trip to the UAE for Abu Dhabi Ascent was covered by Masdar.