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No World Solar Challenge for UG students this year

The solar teams at work in Australia in 2019. Photo: Hans-Peter van Velthoven/Vattenfall Solar Team

No World Solar Challenge for UG students this year

The UG will not be able to participate in a solar race this year. The World Solar Challenge has cancelled the next edition. ‘We’re still working on an alternative’, says Aymar Berkel with the Groningen team.
16 February om 15:45 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 17 February 2021
om 11:48 uur.
February 16 at 15:45 PM.
Last modified on February 17, 2021
at 11:48 AM.

Door René Hoogschagen

16 February om 15:45 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 17 February 2021
om 11:48 uur.

By René Hoogschagen

February 16 at 15:45 PM.
Last modified on February 17, 2021
at 11:48 AM.

René Hoogschagen

Freelancejournalist
Volledig bio

Freelance journalist
Full bio

Normally, the World Solar Challenge is held every two years. Mostly university teams from all over the world drive the solar cars they made themselves right across Australia. Eighteen months ago, the Groningen team’s Green Lightning placed fourth in the race, which was quite a feat. 

The next race was supposed to take place in October, but because of the pandemic and Australia’s strict policy to keep the virus out, it has been cancelled. 

Broken up

‘I’ll admit I was pretty broken up about this’, says Aymar Berkel, third-year student of industrial engineering & management at the UG. He’s this year’s team manager. He was supposed to spend two years on the solar race project, full time. Not because he wants to boast about it on his CV, though: ‘I’m just doing it because it’s so cool.’ 

The rest of the team took the cancellation pretty hard, too. For some, it’s more than just something fun to do; it’s their internship, or their thesis project. The question now is whether the team will be able to stay motivated. ‘If the team quits, we won’t even have a car.’ 

The last six months were spent on designing a completely new car. ‘The rules changed, so we had to’, says Berkel. But there’s a good chance that Green Lightning 2.0 will never see the light of day.

Abu Dhabi or Dubai

‘We’re still talking to other universities and stakeholders to see if we can come up with an alternative.’ His team has plenty of ideas, like organising a race in Abu Dhabi or Dubai, but it’s no use if the other teams don’t like it. ‘You can’t have a race with just three competitors. That’s more of an exhibition. That’s not what we want.’ He hopes to know more in a few weeks.

In 2019, the team mainly consisted of students from the Hanze University of Applied Sciences. One team member, Friso Resink, was from the UG. After the race, he was employed to recruit new team members, which means there are considerably more UG students on this team: eleven, to be exact. The team also consists of thirteen Hanze students, and two from Noorderpoort. 

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