SANTIAGO- The first race using solar cars in Latin-America is taking place in Atacama desert in Chile. “The race is an ecological rally that promotes the development of renewable energy in Chile and its route respects the heritage areas of our country,” environment minister Pablo Badenier said.
Non-governmental organization “La Ruta Solar” kicks off a solar race in Chile’s Atacama Desert. The race took place for the first time in 2011 and in its 5th edition is coming to the most arid desert on Earth, and promises to become the hardest and longest so far. Competitors will have to race more than 2600km from Santiago to Arica, Chile’s northernmost city.
According to official website Carrera Solar Atacama, the new version will take place in October 2018. The race is a competition of vehicles that run with solar energy, the first of its kind in Latin-America. This time the competition comprises the category “Solar” divided into two subcategories, “Cruiser” (more than one occupant per car) and “Challenger” (single-seater). In the “hybrid” category exist “Urban” and “Classic” sub-divisions.
The Atacama Solar Race received registrations until March 31, and a ceremony for the launch of this year’s version took place in the Cultural Center of government residence “Palacio de la Moneda” in Santiago. The ceremony included the sub-secretary of energy Ricardo Irarrazabal, and Cristian Ruiz Zerpa, representative of the metropolitan region’s secretary of energy. Other public and private sector authorities participated, too.
For the director of La Ruta Solar, Leandro Valencia, “the 5th edition of the Atacama Solar Race is a radical challenge. It is absolutely innovative for both the organization and the teams that will go through the most extreme route never seen before within a solar car race. We are glad to see the enthusiasm shown by everyone in regard to this new adventure.” Sub-secretary Irarrazabal remarked that “Chile has one of the best solar radiation indices worldwide, whereby we can go ahead with innovative projects related to solar power.”
In the first edition of the race in 2011 the participants raced 1,060km and three days. This year the race runs through the entire north of Chile in a 7-day journey. But this time the format of the race won’t be organized in stages as hitherto, but will be continuous. The teams start from the point where they got the day prior.
During the seven years the race has taken place, 61 new solar and hybrid vehicles have been built. More than 1,000 university students from Latin-America and the rest of the world have participated. The race is sponsored by the energy ministry, environmental ministry, state-run development fund CORFO, and other organizations. The aim is to promote renewable energy and to showcase Chile’s technological advancement.
Editor-In-Chief Boris van der Spek is the founder of Chile Today. He worked in Colombia, Surinam and the Netherlands as reporter and works with international media during major events, like the social crisis, the elections and the Pope’s visit.