PHL preps for World Solar Challenge 2013 with Sikat II solar car

The official Philippine entry to the bi-annual World Solar Challenge (WSC)—an international cross-country race aimed at promoting solar energy solutions—was launched Thursday, August 15, at the Mall of Asia SMX Center in Pasay City.

Sikat II is the country's latest bid to win the WSC race in Australia this October. The car was designed and produced by faculty and students of the Electronics Communications Engineering program of De La Salle University (DLSU). The project was managed by the Sikat Solar Challenge Foundation, Inc.

Sikat II was test-driven along the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX).

The Philippines' first solar car, Sinag, finished 12th in the WSC in 2007 against 29 other entries from different countries.

“It was not a bad performance for a first timer,” said Henry Co, President of the Sikat Solar Challenge Foundation, Inc.

Potentials of solar, renewable energy

The solar car projects aim to showcase the potentials of solar power and renewable energy.

Co said that the WSC and Sikat II aim to showcase the potentials of solar power and renewable energy.

“This is much more than just a car and much more than the race,” Co said. “It's about raising the awareness of every Filipino in this country of the need to protect our environment and find renewable sources of energy.”

Solar cell prices have dropped to almost a dollar per watt, Co said, adding that Philippine legislation on renewable energy already exists.

“The dream, therefore, of making solar power comercially viable in the philippines is getting closer and closer to reality.”

Car for the road?

But Co clarified that Sikat II isn't meant to be a consumer vehicle.

Co points to the car's upper surface, which is almost completely covered with solar panels. “This amount of solar panels generates a little over 1000 watts,” he said —only enough energy to power a regular hair dryer.

However, Co said that there are many other viable technologies already on the market

such as hybrids, hydrogen-powered vehicles, fuel cell vehicles, and electric cars. — TJD, GMA News