Frisian Solar Challenge

By Keith Henderson at July 12, 2010 05:48
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Last week the Third Frisian Solar Challenge took place in the Netherlands with the competitors covering a 137 mile (220 km) course over a six day period. There were a total of 40 teams comprising mainly technical colleges and universities from eight countries with the furthest one coming from Brazil. The solar boat race is divided into three classes: class A class for one-person boats, class B class for two-person boats, and the open or Top class C may have a crew of any size. To keep costs down, entries in the A and B classes are loaned solar panels, the Top class is free to use as many panels as they wish limited in practice to the vessel’s overall dimensions and a max power limit of 1750W. On board battery storage with a maximum capacity of 1kWh is permitted. The overall winner of class A was Team Sunrise (Netherlands) completing the course in 16hrs 06 mins at an average speed of 8.5mph, class B Energa Solar II (Poland) in 19hrs 25mins with an average of 7 mph and Top class Private Energy Solarboatteam (Netherlands) in 11hrs 26mins averaging 12 mph
Last week the Third Frisian Solar Challenge, (subtitled  the World Cup for Solar Powered Boats), took place in the Netherlands and was fortunate to have enjoyed near tropical weather throughout the whole week. The prolonged sunlight had a “supercharged” effect as the solar boats covered the 137 mile (220 km) course over a six day period.
The race starts and ends in Leeuwarden, the capital of the northerly province of Friesland, and follows the route of the classic Eleven City Tour winter skating competition of canals, rivers, and lakes through Friesland.
Truly international in nature, this year there was a total of 40 teams comprising mainly of technical colleges and universities competing from eight countries with the furthest one coming from Brazil.
The solar boat race is divided into three classes: class A class for one-person boats, class B class for two-person boats, and the open or Top class C may have a crew of any size.
To keep costs down, entries in the A and B classes are loaned solar panels by the race's sponsors Sharp and The Sun Factory. Class A boats receive five panels, class B six panels each with an output of 175W. The Top class is free to use as many panels as they wish however are limited in practice due to the vessel’s overall dimensions and a max power limit of 1750W. On board battery storage with a maximum capacity of 1kWh is permitted.
The overall winner of class A was Team Sunrise (Netherlands) completing the course in 16hrs 06 mins at an average speed of 8.5mph, class B Energa Solar II (Poland) in 19hrs 25mins with an average of 7 mph and Top class Private Energy Solarboatteam (Netherlands) in 11hrs 26mins averaging 12 mph.
Most if not all the hulls are carbon fiber and some boats have a top speed over 15 mph. With the long hours of daylight and the short duration of each leg of the race (about six hours per day) there is ample time to recharge the batteries using the only permitted method – the solar panels. Key to winning the race seems to be an electronic propulsion management system to balance the boat speed, battery energy level and solar panel power. The winning boat in class A has made this an exact science and crossed the finishing line with only one per cent of battery power left!
 
 
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