Abu Dhabi: TAQA, the largest independent power producer in the Middle East and North Africa, is to bring together engineering students from across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) for the region’s first hybrid-electric car race. The event is hosted by The Petroleum Institute, a university and research centre in Abu Dhabi, as a strategic partner. The 2014 TAQA GCC Hybrid-Electric Challenge will be held at Abu Dhabi’s Al Forsan sports resort from January 29-31. It will give university teams from the UAE, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait the chance to apply classroom theory to real-world energy technology challenges. The event is supported by the Emirates Foundation and created by Global EEE, a US-based non-profit organisation.

Saif Al Sayari, TAQA’s Executive Officer and Head of Energy Solutions, commented, “The next generation of engineers will play a critical role in developing a sustainable economy for the UAE and the region. This event gives engineering students the opportunity to try out what they have learned in the classroom in a competitive environment. TAQA is committed to supporting young engineers from the GCC and encouraging the development of alternative energy technologies.”

More than 120 students from 11 teams will participate, including teams from Abu Dhabi’s Petroleum Institute, United Arab Emirates University, Masdar Institute, Abu Dhabi University and Khalifa University. Teams from Oman, Qatar and Kuwait will also compete.

The teams, consisting of drivers and technicians, will race single-person, lightweight, hybrid motor cars built to stringent race design and safety rules. The teams have received car kits and are currently working in teams to engineer, build and fine-tune the vehicles for the event with the aim of developing faster and more energy efficient vehicles.

Each team must make a decision about their strategy for the petrol generator which extends the range of the vehicles. There are three main prizes on offer: fastest qualifying time, longest distance travelled on electric battery alone, and longest distance travelled on the petrol-electric configuration. The overall 2014 TAQA GCC Hybrid-Electric Challenge winner will be crowned by adding the scores of the two race days. Other awards include technical innovation, quality of workmanship, sportsmanship and design.