Hidden in a small office at the back of the Zernike campus, 21 students build a bright green solar car almost every day: the Green Spirit. It’s a lot of fun early in the morning. “Sometimes we spend here sixty seventy eighty hours a week,” says Caroline Nauta. She is a student at the Hans University of Applied Sciences and is part of the Top Dutch Solar Racing team from Groningen. There is a communications director and graphic designer, as well as one of the team’s drivers.
Other Dutch teams are often made up of students from a technical university, but in Groningen students from MBO, HBO and WO participate. “The team is multidisciplinary and international. It is a very well-balanced match. I have the idea that you don’t really see that in the TU team,” Nauta says proudly at Economists.groningen.nl.
When the Groningen students from Team Top Dutch Solar Racing were told to cancel the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in Australia, they decided to look for an alternative race. Together with other European solar teams, they organized the Moroccan Solar Challenge: An alternative race in Morocco from October 25-29. Journey 2,400 km through the Sahara and the Atlas Mountains.
Nota recently to Morocco for a while. She and two other people inspected the track: “Just look at the bends, how steep the slopes are, where you can make an emergency stop: we want to determine the best strategy.” In a couple of months, the country will be riven at a speed of up to 120 km / h. “A solar powered car like this feels very weak. You are sitting very low on the road, and you have a long tail five meters behind you that flies away from the surface of the sun. The feeling is really unique.”
The Groningen Solar Racing team is relatively young. The team did not race for the first time until 2019. “We are confident that we will have a good chance this time as well. We last raced for the first time. Then we immediately became fourth, and about forty teams participated. We are now striving to match that again.” .
Impact on future generations
But taking first place in the standings is not the only goal of the young team. “We consider ourselves the last generation that can still make a huge impact in the fight against climate change.” The students nodded around Naota in agreement. They want to inspire generations to come. “Solar is a very big part of a sustainable future. Timo, one of our boys, used to see the Solar Race team in youth news when he was a kid. Then he thought, Oh, I want to do that when I’m older too. Now he’s our driver. That’s the effect we want on future generations.”
The team will leave for Morocco at the end of next September, with final preparations being made. “We were so happy that this bright spot is still on the horizon. If your goal in Australia suddenly disappears, you are looking for a new goal that you can work towards as a team. Fortunately, Morocco was there.”
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