Pretoria - The Sasol Solar Challenge 2014 kicked off at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research on Saturday, with the Tshwane University of Technology representing Pretoria.
The challenge had 11 teams keen to get going. From 7am, crowds had gathered in anticipation of the start of the most prestigious solar car challenge in the country.
Amid much excitement, Naledi Pandor, Minister of Science and Technology, got the challenge under way.
“The Sasol Solar Challenge provides practical challenges that enable students to broaden their experience by getting involved in real world projects, international networking, practical learning, logistics and understanding the need for and the value of engineers.
“The power of innovative platforms like this event validates research into electric vehicles and renewable energy,” Pandor said.
Held every two years, the event is endorsed by Motorsport SA and the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile. It is a collaborative initiative that sees local and international teams - including six local universities and two schools - participating and promoting alternative energy sources. It also encouraging young minds to become engaged in engineering, science, business practices and teamwork.
It is an eight-day countrywide endurance challenge showing the sophistication and performance of solar-powered vehicles.
Organiser of the event, Winstone Jordaan, was more than pleased with the turnout for the challenge and emphasised the importance of science among the youth.
“The primary objective of this challenge is to promote the STEM subject, which is Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. Also, to get school kids involved in these fields and to give universities the opportunity to demonstrate innovation, build vehicles using sophisticated technology and to put it into practice,” he said.
The teams will travel through Sasolburg, Kroonstad, Bloemfontein, Colesberg, Graaf-Reinet, Port Elizabeth, Knysna and Swellendam and will finish in Cape Town.
CSIR media relations manager Tendani Tsedu, said: “For the CSIR to be involved is very important because we do research in renewable energy - an objective of this event. We’re proud to promote the use of natural resources as opposed to fossil fuels which is harmful to the environment.”
The challenge will end on 4 October after a 2000km route to be completed over eight days. This means covering about 250km a day.
The public is encouraged to show support by interacting with the teams while en route.