The Dong Solar Challenge has kicked off again! The international World Cup for Solar Powerd Boats has started in the North of Holland for the fourth time already. The Dong Solar Challenge started in 2004 as the Nuon Solar challenge and is regularly compared to the solar challenge for cars held in Australia . And just like with the solar powered cars, many new inventions and improvements are introduced every race, as a result, the times this year are expected to improve again over the ones from two years ago.
The last three editions of the Nuon / Dong Solar Challenge have seen constant improvements in the particiapting boats and the respective finish times. This year the finish times are expected to go down again with the new innovations that have been introduced. On the picture above you can see one of the boats with a wing to lift the boat. Usually these are only used for large and very fast ferry’s. As soon as the boat is lifted out of the water by the wing, the boat needs a significant smaller amount of energy due to the lower resistance.
The Dong Solar Challenge
The race is following the trail of the famous Dutch 11 city ice skating trip that only takes places when all the canales and rivers around Sneek are frozen. Unfortunately this doesn’t happen very often, the last time was in 1997. Luckily, the modern solar powered boats don’t even need full sunshine anymore. If there is no direct sunlight they won’t be able to go as fast, but the modern panels can still generate enough power to keep going during periods of overcast.
As you can see, the boats don’t look to comfortable or practical. That is still the main problem for renewable energy, it is just not too practical. On the other hand, it is great to see the improvements that have been made in the last years. What I really want to know is when we can start seeing the innovations and techniques used in these boats in commercial boats. That would be really great! Imagine not needing to refuel, not having any polluting and stinking exhaust.
This race shows that we are making great progress in the right direction.