Panasonic backs Japanese student team as they tackle World Solar Challenge 2011

Panasonic Corporation has announced it will support the defending champions from Tokai University in their quest to be back to back winners of the World Solar Challenge (WSC) in Australia.

The Japanese university team will embark on the intense 3,000 kilometre journey through central Australia – one of the largest solar-powered car races in the world –starting in Darwin on 16 October, and anticipated to arrive in Adelaide on 20 October.

Under the sponsorship agreement, Panasonic is supplying Tokai University’s solar car with innovative technology through its HIT solar cells, boasting the world’s highest level[i] of energy conversion rate and delivering maximum power within a limited space. The team is also using light, high capacity and long lasting lithium-ion battery. Both technologies make a winning combination for the team as WSC regulations limit both the total area of solar cells permitted to be installed on the body of the car as well as the weight of the rechargeable battery module to be mounted on the solar car.

Scott Mellish, Product Technical Trainer, Panasonic Australia will join the team on their gruelling adventure and will broadcast the team’s progress regularly to Australian followers of the race through images, videos and blog posts on the Panasonic sponsorship blog and eco-initiatives blog.  He will also be making regular Twitter and Facebook updates via Panasonic Australia’s social channels.

Steve Rust, Managing Director – Panasonic Australia said: “We are delighted to be supporting the Tokai University team’s bid in such an influential and important event. This sponsorship further highlights Panasonic’s commitment to the environment in helping to create renewable and sustainable solutions.  This exciting technology will help shape the future for sustainable energy generation globally as well as in Australia.”

“Having Scott following the event allows us to provide our followers with updates on the team’s progress and footage of all the action, and really give the team as much support as we can,” he added.

Panasonic HIT solar cells are hybrids of single crystalline silicon surrounded by ultra-thin amorphous silicon layers. With high conversion efficiency, excellent temperature performance and high energy output per unit area, the cells are ideal for obtaining maximum power within a limited space, such as the rooftops of private homes.

The batteries Panasonic is providing are cylindrical 18650-type (18 mm diameter, 65 mm length) high-capacity lithium-ion battery cells with the company’s proprietary nickel-based positive electrode.

This year, Panasonic will provide high-capacity lithium-ion battery cells to five other solar car teams including Delft University of Technology and University of Twente from the Netherlands, Stanford University and University of California from the U.S.A., and Nanyang Technological University from Singapore.

The solar race, first held in 1987, sees University teams from all over the world competing to race through central Australia from Darwin to Adelaide.  The Tokai University team are defending champions, having won the last race held in 2009, with their solar car powered by Panasonic lithium-ion cells.

To follow Scott’s journey as he accompanies the Tokai University solar car team visit:





Handle: @PanasonicAU

[i] As a mass-produced, home-use solar generation system, based on Panasonic’s survey (as of March 2011)