Hot cars, a race, highways–and the sun | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Revved up to take the pedal to the metal, Philippine Solar Team’s solar-powered car, Sikat II is bound to take on and blaze through the Australian highways, as it races against 20 other cars in the World Solar Challenge.

The country’s official delegate to the World Solar Challenge, Philippine Solar Team has 12 members who are students and professors of De La Salle University. The project is headed by Dr. Pag-Asa Gaspillo, supported by mechanical team heads Martin Kalaw, Isidro Marfori III, and electrical team head Jack Catalan (who also serves as team head).

“The team is honored to represent the country, and very proud to have been able to design and create a solar car within seven months, and race it in the World Solar Challenge,” says team leader Jack Catalan.

Sikat II is an offshoot of Sikat I, the Philippines’ second entry to the World Solar Challenge. Also engineered by a team of De La Salle University professors and students, Sikat I placed 12th in the race, competing against 40 other solar race cars.

In less than a year, the Philippine Solar Team built and completed Sikat II. “Essentially, all the basic components of Sikat II are inherited from Sikat I,” says Catalan.

According to him, it is lighter, sturdier, and has a more effective aerodynamic design—the essentials to make any race car run fast. The solar car can run at up to 110km per hour, the race’s speed limit.

Honeycomb solar panels

Sikat II uses honeycomb solar panels, which are sturdier than the solar panels used in Sikat I. Honeycomb solar panels are lightweight, so it only adds durability, but not weight. Sikat II is equipped with solar panels that are proudly Philippine-made, manufactured by Sunpower Philippines in its Batangas and Laguna plants.

Sikat II arrived in Darwin, Australia yesterday, a month ahead of the cross-continent race scheduled on Oct. 16-23. As this Philippine-made solar car speeds through a 3,000-km cross-continent distance from Darwin down to Adelaide, Sikat II hopefully will ignite the hype on solar energy and get people to look into solar energy not just as an alternative source of energy, but as the future major source of energy.

With the support of First Gen Corporation, First

Philec Solar, Energy Development Corporation, and Sunpower, Sikat II is set to make Filipino pride shine and make an impact in the advancement of solar technology in the country.

Sikat II is a testament to the ability of Filipinos to construct solar powered cars. In a time when the earth’s fuel resources are being depleted rather than replenished, it is about time to develop other sources of energy.

“The more people will buy, the more solar panel manufacturers will produce solar panels, and the more need to  come up with better manufacturing technologies therefore it will be relatively cheaper,” explained Catalan.

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