Australia’s only solar manufacturer helps students construct solar race car


In April, eight students from the Australian National University (ANU) spent a week in Adelaide with the engineers and technicians from Tindo Solar, Australia’s only solar panels manufacturer, to develop a race-worthy solar car.

Hardly a new partnership, Tindo Solar has been helping ANU students with solar cars since 2017.

“We can run simulations and modelling on our car, but when we visit Tindo we can determine which ideas will work,” technical Lead for ANU Solar Team, Alex Ambrosi, said. The placement of the car’s 256 solar cells and 21 modules in positions to gain the best exposure to the sun and optimum aerodynamics are among the most critical design elements.

Unfortunately, the race ANU’s Solar Team had hoped to race the car in, the biennial Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, has been changed to an online challenge in 2021 because of Covid-19. The ANU team has now decided it will stage its own solar car race its calling the Australian Solar Challenge, open to those willing to compete.

“We were disappointed that the World Solar Challenge was changed to an online event,” Ambrosi said. “So we are working with the other Australian teams to stage our own event later in the year, and we are working on a car to compete in that race.”

The previous ANU solar car that competed in the 2019 race produced around 1 kW of power that was stored in a 5 kWh battery, propelling the car to speeds between 60 and 85 km/h across the 3000 kilometres from Darwin to Adelaide.

Chief Executive Officer of Tindo Solar, Shayne Jaenisch, said the company had enthusiastically assisted the ANU Solar Racing Team to develop its cars, as well as the racing teams from TAFE SA and University of Adelaide. “We have the experts, the materials and the equipment to get the best out of a solar car. We also see an educational role for ourselves and our partnership with tertiary institutions allows us to fulfil that role.”

Just last week, Tindo Solar has unveiled its new generation 400 W module for domestic and export markets. The company is riding a wave of success that has delivered a 40% increase in retail orders and 70% rise in wholesale orders in the past 12 months.

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