Greenpower is the trading name of a charitable organisation, the Greenpower Education Trust, whose objective is to inspire more young people to become engineers by presenting the engineering industry as an interesting and relevant career choice which could help to solve problems relating to the personal, social and emotional development (known in Britain as PSED) of individuals and societies. The main idea is for teams of students between the ages of 9 and 25 to build and race their own electric powered race cars on top racing circuits such as.
The trust originated from a study by Sussex Chamber of Commerce in 1998 which considered the needs of engineering companies in that region. The investigation revealed low levels of interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (The so-called STEM school subjects).
The Greenpower project started in 1999 to encourage students to construct and race an electric car within professionally drafted specifications. Events were organized for weekends at major motor circuits around the UK to facilitate attendance from the general public.
Greenpower claims that it now works with 500 schools providing events around the UK. Its Headquarters are at Fontwell in Southern England and Greenpower national events are run at the nearby Goodwood Motor Circuit whose owner is a Patron of Greenpower. The national final is normally held at Goodwood in the middle of October on a Sunday and attracts some 110 cars from all over Britain. The Corporate Challenge attracts entries from large companies and universities as far away as Poland, up to 2012 this had been held at Goodwood or Silverstone but from 2013 will be amalgamated with the Final of the F24 championship.
All Greenpower classes use a 24V, 240W Framco motor and pairs of 12V MRT35 AGM batteries. These batteries are selected to be reasonably easy to lift, leak-proof and their discharge characteristics determine how fast the cars can go. The motor is sealed and cannot be modified.
The Goblin Kit Car is offered by as a suitable platform for primary school children aged 9–11. The rules state only this kit may be used which ensures safety for all those competing. The kit includes all parts and components required to build a complete car - except for the bodywork which is left to the creativity of the team.
The motor and battery together with comprehensive instructions are included. Only basic hand tools are required to assemble the kit, which can be dismantled at the end of the season and reused by another group.
IET Formula 24 (F24) is the main racing category - 179 teams completed at least one competitive lap in 2011. It is open to 11-16 year olds.
The rules are built around the standard batteries and motor along with some safety-based rules. These are designed to be relatively open-ended and with room for innovation, leading to a huge variation in how the cars look. There is a kit car available to allow a simplified entry - 40 teams used a kit car in 2011.
F24 races last 4 hours, and teams can use six batteries in that time (80 minutes per pair of batteries). A minimum of five drivers must drive for a maximum of 90 minutes each. Typical average speeds are 20-30 mph.
Prices cover a wide range as different teams use different designs, materials and techniques. The motor and six batteries cost a total of £430 + VAT, while the kit car is £2250 + VAT (April 2012, includes motor, batteries, team registration and entry to the first race)
The technology and attention to detail evident in a top level F24/F24+ car should not be under-estimated, equivalent energy consumption of >3000mpge is commonplace, as such they can be regarded as being the most efficient racing cars anywhere in the world by a considerable margin.
An example of an F24 (and F24+ team) is Rotary Racer.
IET Formula 24+ is for young people aged 16 – 25 and is all about designing and building an electric car with technical regulations that are much the same as those for IET F24.
F24+ races last 90 minutes while using four batteries (45 minute per pair of batteries) leading to significantly higher speeds than F24. Average speeds range from 25 mph to nearly 40 mph.
Any group of young people that fall into the age category can enter the Greenpower competition as a team (including units sponsored by private companies or public organizations such as primary schools and colleges, Institutes of secondary education, and also older people in youth groups, and universities etc.)
The F24 season has events held at race tracks around the UK, including Goodwood Circuit, Mallory Park and Dunsfold. The races last four hours, and the distance completed in this time is submitted to a table of results. The car's greatest distance of the season ranks it in this table, with the top 70 vehicles plus 3 wildcards being entered into the National Final, held at Goodwood in October.
The F24+ season consists of similar races, but a smaller number of events are held, usually before the main F24 race. These races last 90 minutes, with points being awarded for position at the end of the race to the first eight cars. If less than eight cars participate, half points are awarded.
Each race sees a number of awards being presented for engineering, innovation, presentation, best new team and the "Spirit of Greenpower".
Goblin events are run separately and each is slightly different depending on space and team numbers. At most events there are 3 tests that take place: a slalom, a drag and an endurance. The slalom is against the clock, as is the drag race. Each is completed six times which allows for a large group of students to all get the thrill of driving, with the lowest time from each team used. The endurance is a short race (typically three laps) with a few cars on track, run as heats followed by finals as necessary. Points are awarded for each test (1st place = 1 point, 2nd place = 2 points etc.). There are also awards at Goblin events and these carry negative points, helping to reduce a team's score. The lowest overall score wins the event.
Patrons and Partners
The Patrons of Greenpower are:
- The Earl of March, owner of Goodwood Motor Circuit and the Goodwood Festival of Speed
- David Richards CBE, chairman of Prodrive and Aston Martin
- Viscount Linley, chairman of Christie's UK and LINLEY
The current complete list of partners is published by Greenpower. In 2011 those listed included:
- Siemens Electronics
- Unipro web services
- Fordingbridge roofs plc
- Ford Motor co.
- Lockheed Martin Corp
- Passivent Commercial Ltd
- Liverpool Motor Club
- Renishaw precision
- Cornwall College Group
- Springfields nuclear fuels ( a division of Westinghouse Electric Company)
- Cummins Diesel Inc
- Cleveland Scientific Institution
- MCIS (a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation)
- EngineeringUK part of The Lloyds Register Educational Trust
- Tomorrow's Engineers charity
- Silverstone circuit group
- Dunsfold airfield business park
- Aintree Golf centre
- Prodrive motorsport engineering
- Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining
- e2v Technologies plc
- Newquay Cornwall Airport
- The Insurance Partnership
- MotorSport Vision
- Sevcon control systems
- Rozalex skincare products
- Vicky Kakos in2school directory
- "About Greenpower". Retrieved 2011-11-07.
- "Greenpower Awards". Retrieved 2012-04-10.