TAFE SA Solar Spirit

Solar Cars

Solar Cars

Solar Spirit


The TAFE SA Solar Spirit team (TAFE SA in partnership with industry), aims to develop and run a fast, reliable solar car for each World Solar Challenge.
TAFE SA Solar Spirit is a competitive vehicle that demonstrates to the world that TAFE SA is able to deliver world class training and technology… with the support of industry - now!

In 2013 the WSC governing committee introduced a new competition class named "Cruiser" which matches the design philosophy of the TAFESA car team and TAFE SA Solar Spirit performs well in this category.

The earlier TAFE SA solar car 'Kelly' was run in 2009 by high school students competing in the adventure class, re-named SolarShop Kelly.

Kelly was a sleek two-seater solar sports car capable of reaching speeds up to 110 km/h. It crossed Australia solely on power generated from sunlight, whereas each of the conventional support cars following RAA Kelly use hunderds of dollars worth of petrol for the trip.

SolarSpirit Australia Technical Information

Size 4.5m x 1.8m(w) x 1.4m(h)
Weight 360kg
Solar Cells Sunpower C60, Monocrystalline Silicon cells 22.6% efficiency, 153cm² by Hans Gochermann
392 cells, 6m²
Battery 22Kg Lithium-Ion 110V 40Ah
Wheel Motors CSIRO 3phase 1.8kW and NGM 3phase 5kW
Motor Control Tritium Wave Sculptor
Wheels 4 purpose built 16” alloys by TMag
Tyres SavaKran MC2 16x2.5 and Michelin
Brakes Balanced Hydraulic twin circuit
Body Kevlar shell
Brakes Balanced Hydraulic twin circuit
Chassis Carbon fibre monocoque
Designed Speed 80km/hr average

How Solar Cars Work

This diagram gives a general idea how energy flows in a solar car. The sunlight hits the cells of the solar array, which produces an electrical current. The energy (current) can travel to the batteries for storage, go directly to the motor controller, or a combination of both. The energy sent to the controller is used to power the motor that turns the wheel and makes the car move.

Generally, if the car is in motion, the converted sunlight is delivered directly to the motor controller, but there are times when there is more energy coming from the array than the motor controller needs. When this happens, the extra energy gets stored in the batteries for later use.

When the solar array can't produce enough energy to drive the motor at the desired speed, the array's energy is supplemented with stored energy from the batteries. Of course, when the car is not in motion, all the energy from the solar array is stored in the batteries.

  Control Stop  
Testing Wiring inside the solar array to ensure reliability of the solar panel connections.
Securing Electrical Connections to prevent vibration damage