On Monday 22 June 2015, the University of Johannesburg (UJ) Energy Movement held a public lecture in Windhoek, Namibia. This was after Ilanga II, a solar powered electric car left South Africa on Thursday 18 June to embark on a 4 160 km educational road trip dubbed the 2015 African Solar Drive. The Drive aims to raise awareness about green technology in a series of lectures along the route from South Africa, Namibia then Botswana.
The public lecture took place at the Polytechnic in Windhoek (NBII Innovation Village, Auditorium 1) and has seen members of the public and media attending the lecture to have a look at the splendid solar vehicle and learn more about green technology. By showcasing Ilanga II and hosting public lectures, the UJ Energy Movement aims to share their experiences with schools, students, researchers and people that are interested in pursuing a career in the fields of science and engineering, specifically relating to alternative energy.
Mechanical Engineering Science lecturer and the UJ Energy Movement Programme Manager, Ms Nickey Janse van Rensburg says about the trip, “It’s been wonderful to see the great response from industry leaders, academia and scholars in all the towns we are stopping in – all excited to meet Ilanga II.”
The UJ Energy Movement programme was established in 2010 to help promote skills development, energy conservation and sustainability through technology innovation. Along the route, engineering students are collecting and analysing data to optimise the performance of the vehicle, which will later be used to attempt to set the solar-only land speed world record.
The solar drive team is also visiting rural towns along the route to inform people about the importance of renewable energy and sustainability and easy ways to implement it in our daily lives. To complement the team’s efforts, they have partnered with Prof Vivian Alberts at PTiP Innovations, who have developed wholly local (and internationally patented) thin film photovoltaic technology, which they hope to pilot in rural communities in the near future. PTiP is utilising the 2015 African Solar Drive route to identify possible community outreach programmes that can utilise PTiP’s innovative product to vastly improve living conditions.
Team and Technology Manager of the Energy Movement programme, Warren Hurter explains that, “Working with PTiP in educating communities along our route has allowed us to showcase locally developed PV technology.”
To add to the interest of the trip, Mitsubishi Motors – the official transport partner for the tour and supplier of a full fleet of vehicles for the 2015 African Solar Drive’s ground patrol team – has tasked the students to have their own Economy Run with the vehicles provided to them. Mitsubishi products like the Mirage are extremely fuel efficient, in fact the Mirage is touted as the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid petrol-engine vehicle in the United States. The fuel consumption of all the vehicles will be calculated on the combined trip of 4 160 kilometres.
The 2015 African Solar Drive route and lecture dates are as follows:
- Monday, 22 June: Rehoboth – Windhoek (Public Lecture)
- Tuesday, 23 June: Windhoek– Swakopmund – Walvis Bay
- Wednesday, 24 June: Walvis Bay – Swakopmund
- Thursday, 25 June: Swakopmund – Windhoek – Buitepos
- Friday, 26 June: Buitepos – Kang
- Saturday, 27 June: Kang – Sekoma – Kanye – Gaborone
- Sunday, 28 June: Gaborone Day
- Monday, 29 June: Gaborone (Public Lecture) – UJ Solar Lab
Follow the UJ Solar Car on: http://www.ujsolar.co.za/
Sasol Solar challenge website: www.solarchallenge.org.za
WIN: The 2015 African Solar Drive Twitter competition:
If you spot the Solar Car along the route don’t hesitate to upload a photo on Twitter by using @UJSolarCar and #AfricanSolarDrive or the UJ Solar Car Facebook page. Who knows, you might be the lucky winner of a Google Tablet.
The winner of the prize will be drawn randomly on the 30th of June and will be notified via Twitter or Facebook.