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12 Sep 2019


In this two-part series, BWSC Event Director Chris Selwood AM gives us his unique perspective of the 3000km journey from Darwin to Adelaide that forms the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge.

Read Part 1 here.


Crossing the border into South Australia means the road markers change, the road signs change… we’re a country made up of many countries!

Things are different. The biggest thing that is going to bite people if they’re not paying attention is the clocks have changed, because South Australia has daylight saving and the Northern Territory – being predominantly a tropical location – doesn’t need daylight saving.

That’s why we publish the control stop times with two times – local time and event time. We keep with event time, which is Northern Territory time, all the way down to Adelaide.

South Australia opens up into long wide, swathes of road, and we’re into salt bush country.  Still cattle country of course, until we get down towards the breakaways and Coober Pedy when the landscape changes dramatically. We’ve been digging there for 100 years, and we’ve made some great big limestone chalk pyramids right across the landscape looking for that precious opal.

Coober Pedy and Tennant Creek (in the Northern Territory) both share the honour of being charging locations for the Cruiser Class. Cruiser Class cars are designed to be practical cars, that the public might recognise as being a legitimate form of personal transport. Since we started the Cruiser Class in 2013, we’re been evolving what it looks like. The determinates of success are a mixture of efficiency, work –that means they need to drive from A to B within a certain time window – and practicality.

If the Cruiser Class cars get to Tennant Creek, or from Tennant Creek to Coober Pedy, too fast, they’re using too much energy. Their challenge is in fact 3 smaller challenges.

So what that means is this practical, electric car, Cruiser Class Car has to do 1000km from Darwin to Tennant Creek, that will deal with any range anxiety. 1200kms from Tennant Creek to Coober Pedy; who’s going to manage that? That will be very interesting to see. Then, it’s 850-odd-kilometres from Coober Pedy to Adelaide.

At each of those two intermediate locations where they get the chance to charge, we are engaged in a live experiment with the CSIRO for Smart Grid integration. What that means in simple terms is the user, as in the cars that are plugged in, will share the available electricity.

There’s a communication protocol between the network and the user, and that’s something that we’re going to have to see more and more of, as people take their electric cars home from work and plug into the electricity network. We don’t want brown outs, black outs, network collapses… The whole science and innovation around the integration of renewable energy into traditional electricity networks is something that is quite big picture. We’re working on that as part of our future goals for the event, to get these young people thinking about what those issues are, and how they can be managed.

On the home stretch towards Glendambo and Port Augusta, we deal with weather, but the other thing we get to deal with is coming down off the Central Plateau, which peaks just north of Alice Springs.

We start to come down off the Plateau, and we’re now quite close to the Railway line, which crosses our path and runs beside us. We drive past the great salt lakes, and the salt bush country south of the Dog fence. We get down more into sheep country than cattle country, until we get down to Port Augusta.

This is a great milestone for those who perhaps weren’t that well-resourced, but who now find they’ve crossed the continent from the ocean to the ocean. So good on them.

It’s still another 300km to Adelaide, and the road starts to get busier again, because this is the main road to Adelaide from not only Darwin but Perth, and we travel down through the pastural country as we get closer to Adelaide in the market gardens, and then the northern industrial areas, before we arrive at the finish line in Adelaide.


Read Part 1 here.

The 2019 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge takes place from Darwin to Adelaide, South Australia from 13-20 October. 

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