enjoys Solar Car Day and supports Under One Sun education initiative

Wednesday October 6, 2021

Last week, Concord’s budding physicists and engineers enjoyed a ‘Solar Car Day’, participating in a pioneering sustainability project, described by Concord’s Head of Science, Mr Barry Brown as “increasingly important for future generations.” The project, Charge Around Australia involves Mr Stuart McBain, an accountant from Liverpool, and his nephew, Mr Arthur McBain, a London-based actor. The duo will be driving 9,380 miles around the entire coast of Australia, in a 100% electric vehicle. The aim – to show how portable printed solar cell technology enables charging off grid, collecting free energy from the sun in some of the most remote places on the planet. The project is a part of the ‘Under one Sun’ education initiative; Stuart and Arthur will be visiting schools around Australia to talk to students about the project, solar power and sustainability. During the visits – as experienced at Concord – there will be a live link to the Centre for Organic Electronics (COE) at the University of Newcastle in Australia, where top scientists are developing what is believed to be the world’s most affordable, flexible and lightweight solar panels. The sheets, made largely from recycled PET plastic – widely used to make convenience-sized soft drink bottles, can in turn be recycled, unlike traditional solar panels which end up in landfill. During the first visit of the international project, Concord students and pupils from two local primary schools benefitted from short presentations, exploring and touching the solar materials for themselves, learning via a live video link to Australia and engaging in Q&A sessions. Longnor and Condover primary students also got to spend an hour in Concord’s state-of-the-art Science Block in specialist laboratories, being taught by Physics teachers, a practical session about solar-powered buggies. Speaking of the launch at Concord, Project Founder, Mr Stuart McBain said: “We chose Concord College to launch our ‘Under One Sun’ international schools programme as they have a strong emphasis on STEM. “Engaging with schools is an important element of the project. We want to educate young people about the importance of solar energy for the future of our planet. “When we set off next year on our three-month challenge, the students can track our daily progress. We will also be visiting Australian schools almost every day during our trip so there’s plenty of opportunity for UK students and those in Oz to join forces and learn from each other’s experiences.” Dr Ben Vaughan, ANFF Hub Research Manager at the Centre for Organic Electronics added: “One of the greatest issues the world is facing is energy production. We have billions of people who still have little to no access to clean energy or electrical power and the effect of this on climate change is being felt world-wide. “Imagine a world where any surface in any location can become an opportunity for sustainable energy generation. “Charge Around Australia will help us bring attention to these issues and understand how new, adaptable technologies can change the script on these critical global challenges. “This will be the first time our printed solar panels have been used to power an electric vehicle, let alone as a portable, retractable system that moves with the car, so it’s very much an intrepid venture in every sense.” To find out more about Charge Around Australia, click here.