Dakar Rally, 2018: On-Truck PV system by SoliTek
Oftentimes teams complain about the blistering heat of the Latin American sun. Rarely, however, do they think of making it work for them. Exactly this kind of innovative solution came to mind for one Lithuanian team when they were renovating their service truck. They were the only team with a PV solution in this year's race and earned the prestigious Eco-Label award.
The “CRAFT Bearings” team, who came in 13th place in this year’s rally collects solar energy via a 6 panel and one battery system, using it in the evening to perform service tasks in silence.
“In the evenings, the pits become a real orchestra. It’s not rock or jazz that’s playing, but generators of all different types and sizes, making electric energy to power service tools. When we were renovating the service truck, we thought of an opportunity to be more eco-friendly. With Darius we are both citizens of Neringa [a city on the coast of Lithuania], and we know how important it is to preserve nature and the environment. In addition, we will decrease the load on our mechanics’ eardrums. In the Dakar pits, electricity sometimes disappears, so we can make some cash selling our eco-friendly energy – a side business for the new truck,” jokes Antanas Juknevičius when describing his team’s transition to a more eco-friendly mode.
The panels were supplied and installed by SoliTek using a non-standard installation technique – the panels had to be glued down on the rood using an industrial strength adhesive tape. You can read more about how the installation was done here[click]. The inverter, supplied by NoGrid, a local installer, also included a 1.2kWh battery to store the electricity collected. During the night, the mechanics would use the energy to power service tools and maintain lighting. The team did eventually have to make use of a diesel generator when the most powerful tools were needed, but the whole first week was spent in silence.
As SoliTek Chairman of the Board Vidmantas Janulevičius comments, PV is an indispensable source of energy in places where the supply of electricity is not guaranteed. “We are currently in negotiations with global partners about the use of SoliTek-made PV cells in the use of portable pocket and backpack-sized appliances that can charge small electronic devices: mobile phones, LED torches, tablets, and similar. It’s planned that such shock and water-resistant modules could be used in areas damaged by natural disasters until a regular supply of electricity is restored.”