Driving using solar energy

Four people in front of a solar car

Solar car. Picture: Earth University

The solar car developed in Costa Rica is celebrating its first birthday! As part of a project of the International Climate Initiative (IKI), students converted a golf cart into a solar-powered car that is still running today.

The Central American country set itself the goal of becoming climate neutral by 2021 and has been consistently implementing strategies for reducing greenhouse gases and using renewable energies over the past few years. An IKI project, which ran until the end of 2013, helped establish a research and development centre at the Earth University in the capital of San Jose for training activities on renewable energies and their application.
The project was implemented locally by the Renewables Academy (RENAC). The research centre, CIDER, focuses providing seminars for local farm managers.
The curriculum comprises the use of biomass, biogas and biofuels; solar thermal and photovoltaics; wind and hydropower; geothermal; and storage and hydrogen technologies. The REN@EARTH project for transferring know-how on using renewable energies is a great success. It was founded with support from Germany and is now one of the largest training units for renewable energies in all of Central America.

Significantly greater use of renewable energies in the Costa Rican agricultural sector was one of the project's core sustainable results. The development of the photovoltaic car also resulted in more public recognition: two 245 W solar cells were installed on the golf cart instead of a plastic roof, along with an adapted battery system. The solar car has been driven around 20 kilometres every day for the past 12 months and is proving to be a success. A small, but not insignificant contribution for fighting climate change.