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  • Writer's pictureJason Price

Carbon footprint… not carbon fibre

The issue of sustainability in motorsport is a controversial one. Most, if not all teams are trying to reduce their carbon footprint – offset tree planting for each mile covered by their lorries / support vehicles / hospitality units using recyclable cups / cutlery and packaging etc. – to name a few methods.

But what if solar panels could play a much larger part in the carbon offset of your race team? Is it practical, affordable and logical? Let’s dive into this hot topic…

Yes, it is a thing…

After a bit of R&D (Google) I found several companies that specialise in supplying and fitting solar panel systems to commercial vehicles including articulated lorries. These can be used for running air conditioning, tail lifts, and charging batteries for tools amongst other things.

There is a wealth of information on the internet from reliable sources, the possibilities are endless. Hospitality units that can be self-powered and not have to be plumbed into a noisy diesel generator for example… nothing like have your morning bacon bap with added diesel fumes as an extra topping!

I found a chilled food transport company in London that has fitted solar panels on the roofs of its in entire fleet to power the chiller units on each trailer. The engine now doesn’t have to do this – less fuel, less emissions and more MPG. A winner all round.

All teams need sponsorship, that is a given. If a deal could be struck between your team and a manufacturer or supplier of solar panels this would be the ideal situation. That and a campsite full of potential customers to showcase the technology to.

Power… more power (© Jeremy Clarkson ™)

Granted, solar power may not supply the full amount power required by a trailer, but if it can reduce the draw on the circuits mains system then that can surely only be a good thing? It might also save a few bob to boot.

The numbers don’t lie

I cracked out the abacus and have done a few simple calculations. They’re not scientifically proven but do give an idea on what could be achieved:

Average trailer roof space @ 35sqm.

1200x700mm solar panels in a fixed frame with a 175w output rating, a single trailer roof could accommodate approximately 30 panels.

One size does not fit all

There is a fair range of solar panel types available for vehicles – different wattage, sizes and profiles, and even flexible ones. I am sure the technology involved will only get better and become even more efficient.

Yes there would be a substantial investment cost in installing this kind of system, but don’t we all have to make a certain level of investment into the future? If we can make motorsport have less of an impact on the environment then we should do all we can to strive for that goal.

First and last lap

I am all for motorsport being sustainable. We will struggle to reach net zero but as they say, minimal gains add up.

We can all make small adjustments to make the planet last a bit longer. As they say this isn’t a practice lap… we go only get one go at it!

What does your team do to help with its carbon footprint? What would you like to see at tracks to help the environment?

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