Matt Haslam, the Great Britain SailGP Team Shore Team Manager, plays an important role in the team's Tech and Innovation projects for the Impact League, an initiative that tracks the positive climate actions of all nine SailGP Teams.
After each event, each team is scored and judged on social and environmental criteria, ranging from pioneering new technologies focused on clean energy solutions, to removing all single-use plastics, and implementing a diversity and inclusion strategy.
One of the areas the Impact League has challenged teams is to reduce their energy consumption, which the GBR team initially tackled by finding more energy efficient appliances such as fridges and installing sensor lights. However, GBR wanted to take this a step forward and find an innovative solution to locally produce their own clean energy source.
To tackle this goal, safety swimmer and shore team member, Henry Woodhouse, developed the idea of repurposing GBR’ s old F50 race boat PV cell batteries to power the office container all whilst charging them using solar energy. The container is the team's biggest energy consumption area and holds kitchen items like the fridge and coffee machine, as well as office supplies like laptop chargers and on-board communication kit charging ports.
Matt Haslam commented; “We repurposed old lithium-ion batteries that weren’t suitable for the F50 anymore, but still had usable life in other areas, and installed a system with a solar inverter charger.” Matt added. “The charging system takes the PV cell's energy and charges the batteries during the day then inverts that power to 220 volt AC overnight so the team can use the comms gear, any laptops and run the coffee machine in the morning.”
While in Plymouth, the shore team bought a second-hand solar panel and installed it as a way to charge the batteries, and supply energy to the container, when the sun was not always shining. “We've been able to locally source parts and develop the system, which has made it easy for us to bring down to the event and install here. Now that it is installed, the panels come on tour with us and we'll be able to develop as we go.”
This project has brought to light how accessible clean power is becoming, Matt installed and created this battery system himself. “I bought the two solar panels online and then built the system within the container. You can buy more complete sets with companies that supply a battery with an inverter charger all in one set up. There are a lot more options becoming available which is quite exciting.”
Matt is currently working on a ‘proof of concept’ system to develop throughout the course of Season 3, where the introduction of wind turbines could be included. “Once we've got a system that's working well, we can grow the systems to power whatever else we need. We've got another workshop, storage container, changing room container, and the boat itself which has batteries that need charging every night. There is huge scope for us to grow this project within the team and hopefully it will become adopted and rolled out across the whole of SailGP.”