The Solar Boat Races Groningen began on Friday afternoon as 15 teams from the Netherlands and abroad flew through – or literally over – the water at the sun-drenched Sluiskade in the center of Groningen on Friday.
By Hans de Preter
Despite their high speeds, the boats barely made a sound as they zoomed past the Groninger Museum at 40 kilometers per hour. Many teams from Friesland, Drenthe and Groningen took part in the competition, which was meant to serve as a showcase of the north’s focus on and familiarity with high-quality solar technology. The Solar Boat Races will continue on Saturday at the Westerhaven on the Sluiskade.
The boat races are an initiative of former Groningen astronaut Wubbo Ockels who took the initiative in 2008 for a solar boat race. According to spokesperson Marije Elgersma, the Solar Sport One Foundation hopes that the solar boat races will provide new knowledge and technology that can ultimately also be used in daily life.
The municipality of Groningen also supports the initiative. On behalf of the municipality, Wouter van Bolhuis said that the use of renewable energy is a perfect fit with the sustainability policy of the municipality of Groningen.
The city wants to be energy neutral by 2035, and the municipality sees promoting energy saving as one of the best ways to promote that goal. There are also plans to install 12 large wind turbines at Westpoort or Roodehaan in the province, and the city and provincial governments are in talks to install solar arrays on up to 700 hectares of land. The municipality had 18,000 such panels installed by the end of 2018.