ABB powers up Dakar Rally crew

Dakar Rally

A pioneering motorsport team, Craft Bearings, has adopted ABB REACT 2 inverter and energy storage solution to help achieve its most ambitious target yet – to become the first team in Dakar Rally history to reduce its use of traditional diesel generators and be 100 per cent solar powered for the service and support team.

Working in close collaboration with its partner SoliTek, ABB’s efficient REACT 2 solar storage solution has been installed as part of an off-grid solar installation on the Craft Bearings multipurpose service truck. The set-up is being used to harness enough solar energy during the day to support the service and ancillary team as they undertake essential repairs to the racecars at night, as well as supply power to the team’s bivouacs, media and IT center.

The Dakar rally, which is currently underway in Peru, January 6 to 17, 2019, is known and respected as one of the most challenging and toughest events in motorsport. Often the routes take in mountainous and rocky terrains combined with extreme heat and dry conditions in very remote locations. As such, all the crews require access to remote power, which has traditionally been supplied by diesel generator sets.

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For the 2019 event, the Craft Bearings team has set itself an ambitious target of reducing its dependence on temporary diesel power. It is aiming to generate 100 per cent of its energy needed for service and supporting infrastructure in its multipurpose truck from solar, taking advantage of the South American climate.

To support the team, six bifacial solar panels measuring 10sqm have been installed on the roof of the main service lorry and include the latest photovoltaic (PV) panels, supplied by SoliTek.

These new generation PV panels are ultra-durable and toughened to withstand the terrain in South America and can absorb the sun’s energy from the front side and rear side. This enables the panels to produce 25 per cent more energy than one-sided solar panels.

This hybrid power system was selected because of its higher IP class and large storage capacity. The ABB team also installed a frequency converter, ABB ACS355 drive, in order to control the 3-phase compressor and avoid over limits of the system.

The modular solution, along with the inclusion of a high-voltage lithium-ion battery (200 V), with a long life and a storage capacity of up to 12 kWh, delivers more reliability and up to 10 per cent more system efficiency compared to lower voltage alternatives (48 V). This technology therefore makes it ideal to harness the sun’s energy in South America and use it productively in such challenging and remote locations as seen in the Dakar Rally. During times of reduced sunlight, ABB also provided two external battery blocks to harness and utilise the stored energy.

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It is estimated that the current system will enable the service and support team to work for full two days without using any external power sources.

Global product group manager for ABB’s solar inverter business Giovanni Frassineti said this latest installation demonstrates how solar can be used and adapted across a number of competitive applications to promote cleaner and greener energy.

As demand for smarter solutions and connectivity continues, the Craft Bearings team will also take advantage of ABB Ability with REACT 2 to deliver intelligent control over their storage needs and manage their energy production and consumption during the race. This means the team principals will be able to control peaks and troughs in the energy flow and should be able to meet their 100 per cent solar energy target for the coverage of service energy needs.