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In it to win it: Solar Team Twente’s approach to sustainability

Every two years, Solar Team Twente develops a new solar car. Their goal? Winning the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, a 3,000 km journey through Australia’s outback.

The Bridgestone World Solar Challenge is a testing ground for innovations in sustainable transportation. Teams are challenged to drive 3,000 km in 6 days, in a car running only on solar energy. One of them is Solar Team Twente, consisting of students from Saxion and the University of Twente. Every two years, a new team starts from scratch. Frances van Elburg, member of the 2018/2019 team, explains: ‘If you redesign a car, you are much more limited than if you start from scratch.’ Although the team’s main goal is winning the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, they also aim to contribute to the UN’s Global Goals on sustainable mobility.

Testing ground for innovation

Solar Team Twente participates in the Challenger class, which Frances describes as ‘the Formula 1 for solar cars. In this class there is even more room for innovation, and you do everything you possibly can to develop a newer, better and faster car.’ In their latest car, the team used a type of solar cell used in the aerospace industry, allowing them to significantly reduce the vehicle’s size. In this way, Solar Team Twente offers a platform where businesses can test out new innovations.

Sharing knowledge

Besides striving to win the challenge, Solar Team Twente also seeks to pave way for innovation. Why limit yourself by using a traditional solar cell if a different cell is more efficient? And how can you scale down a car, yet fit in all the necessary components? The team frequently gives presentations at businesses and schools. Last year a school class paid a visit to the Solar Team Twente office. Frances explains: ‘We want to spark the enthusiasm of the younger generation for this topic, and we see that kids are always really interested in what we do’.

Photos by Jérôme Wassenaar

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