Environment minister Guy Boutilier takes a ride with solar teamers Adam Berti and Lee Wasilenko.
courtesy U of C Solar Team

Solar car team gains grant from gov't

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Thanks to a donation from Alberta Environment, members of the University of Calgary Solar Team are rolling closer to victory at the 2007 Panasonic World Solar Challenge.

The $50,000 grant was announced after two members of the team and the car traveled to the Youth Environmental Summit in Kananaskis in October to submit an extensive business proposal. Alberta Environment Minister Guy Boutilier was endeared to the project and instigated the donation, which will be split over two years.

"I am extremely impressed by their leadership and dedication to this project," said Boutilier in a release.

Alberta Environment becomes a gold-level sponsor with the contribution, and the team plans to use the funds to build an aeroshell for the car and create an oven to mold the carbon fibre. A large portion of the funds will also be allocated towards preparation for the North American Solar Challenge.

In addition to conventional donations, the team is using an adopt-a-cell fundraiser that was created to support the group during their 2005 competitive run.

Along with their competitive goals, the Solar Team works to educate the community about environmental friendliness and energy efficiency.

"We have the ear of many different people and we want to provide a voice for energy efficiency and environmental concerns," said Solar Team logistics manager Adam Gray.

The team is also working on getting U of C students involved to create a sustainable plan for the program. As part of the recruiting initiative, the team is approaching first-year students from many disciplines and will form a mentoring program to shape students into future leaders.

There are also many incentives for students who wish to get involved, including course credit, extensive travel and a greater understanding of managerial and infrastructure workings of a company and the U of C, said Gray.

"We really want to educate students at the U of C," said Gray.

The U of C Solar Car Team placed 13th out of 18 teams in the 2005 North American Solar Challenge, which raced from Texas to Calgary, and won first in their class at the 2006 Panasonic World Solar Challenge in Australia. The team will compete in the 2008 North American Solar Challenge.