Hanergy, a Beijing-based, global clean energy company, is at the forefront of global solar technologies and is the largest thin-film solar panel company in the world.
Le Mans, 13 June 2014 - Aston Martin Racing has signed a partnership agreement with solar technologies experts Hanergy Global Solar in a project exploring how the sun’s energy can be used to improve race car performance at the pinnacle of sportscar racing, the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), starting with the 24 Hours of Le Mans this weekend (14-15 June).
Hanergy, a Beijing-based, global clean energy company, is at the forefront of global solar technologies and is the largest thin-film solar panel company in the world. It is best known for its high-quality solar photovoltaic panels that are fitted to the roof of buildings, harnessing the sun’s energy for powering homes and industry and feeding surplus power back into electricity grids.
As part of its ambitious growth plans, Hanergy is exploring wider applications of its technologies, investigating how solar power can be incorporated into many new areas to improve efficiency and enhance performance. In doing so it has turned to Aston Martin Racing for its latest project.
“We can now manufacture photovoltaic solar panels that are thin, lightweight and flexible, with world leading performance” explains Jason Chow, Executive President Hanergy Global PV Application Group. “We are interested in developing these for cars, so that, for example, a thin layer of cells can be applied to the roof or rear windscreen to power the air-conditioning or other ancillary functions without affecting the performance of the car or using the fuel or battery source.
“The engineers at Aston Martin Racing are helping us to apply our technology and eventually to put it to the test in the most extreme of automotive environments.”
In line with current FIA WEC regulations, GT cars must be fitted with an air conditioning system that keeps the temperature of the cockpit below 32 degrees centigrade or 12 degrees above ambient temperature.
High temperatures in the race car can have extremely negative affects on drivers and, with the WEC travelling to hot destinations such Austin and Bahrain, it is a concern for all of the teams. However, running air conditioning causes loss of power to the engine and negatively affects the car’s fuel efficiency.
“It’s a bit of a balancing game at the moment,” explained Dan Sayers, Chief Engineer at Aston Martin Racing. “The air conditioning system uses engine power, however, keeping the drivers cool and more comfortable is essential. If we can find a solution that keeps the driver cool without the negative effects on performance then it could have a really positive impact on GT racing.”
Aston Martin Racing is continually improving the comfort of its range of Vantage race cars that compete in championships around the world and the technology could be introduced to the V12 Vantage GT3 and V8 Vantage GT4 once developed.
“We aren’t looking at solar power technology for our race cars because it is a green option,” explains Aston Martin Racing’s Team Principal John Gaw. “We are looking at how we can use the power of the sun to improve the comfort of our race cars for our drivers and therefore increase our performance on track. However, we are looking at how we can improve our green credentials as a business now that we are moving to new premises.”
Prodrive, which runs Aston Martin Racing on behalf of the famous brand will move to new premises in Banbury next year, so the company is also investigating how Hanergy’s solar technologies can be integrated into the new building to improve efficiency.
The project will run throughout 2014 with the engineers developing the technology at Aston Martin Racing’s premises ahead the next round of the WEC, the Six Hours of Austin, at the Circuit of the Americas.
Aston Martin Racing