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Greenpower: will we all be driving electric cars?

Greenpower electric car on a race circuitJeremy Way is the Director of Greenpower - a company that organises electric car races for schools. He was a resident expert for three weeks, and users asked him questions about green power, solar car races, and renewable energy.

What is the fastest car you have ever seen at a greenpower challenge?

The fastest Greenpower car was recorded at 47mph at Castle Combe racing circuit in 2005. At this point we changed the regulations to slow the competitors down as this was becoming too fast for safety.

How fast do the cars go now?

Cars in the Formula 24 secondary school series typically average around 25mph, with the 2008 National Champion averaging just over 30mph over four hours – not bad when you take into account pitstops to change drivers.

Will we all drive ‘green’ cars in the future, or is it too impractical for everyday use?

Battery and electric motor technology is developing rapidly and this is undoubtedly the future means of power for vehicles, so I am certain that one day we will be driving cars that run on ‘green’ energy. Electric cars do of course require renewable energy to power them to be truly ‘green,’ so renewable energy also needs to become more widespread.

Are the cars are only greenpowered if they use renewable electricity?

If most power we use is generated from fossil fuels then does this mean that the cars are actually more wasteful than usual because of energy being lost when it is converted to batteries and stored?

Good question! We do not actually specify where the electricity for Greenpower cars should come from, though some teams do only recharge from renewable sources. On average a Greenpower car uses 26 pence worth of electricity to cover over 100 miles in four hours, which equates to a very green 1500 miles to the gallon. This is due to the high efficiency of the vehicles where design teams have focussed on aerodynamics and low rolling resistance – technology that must become a part of all road vehicles in the future. Whilst most power we use is generated from fossil fuels, the emissions from a single power station are also easier to ‘clean’ than the exhaust pipes of thousands of cars.

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