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Pioneering adventurer visits Montgomery school

Created on 05/05/2022 @ 10:03


Pupils from Montgomery Church in Wales primary school are amongst the first in the country to learn about a pioneering sustainability project, called Charge Around Australia, that will take place on the other side of the planet.

Stuart McBain, an accountant from Liverpool, will drive 9,380 miles (15,097 km), around the entire coast of Australia in a 100% electric vehicle proving how portable printed solar cell technology enables charging off grid, collecting free energy from the sun in some of the most remote places on the planet.

Stuart visited the primary school on Wednesday to talk to the students about his challenge. As part of the visit, there was a live link to the University of Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia, where top scientists are developing what is believed to be the world’s most affordable, flexible and lightweight solar panels. Along with an opportunity to ask questions, pupils were also able to touch the paper-thin innovative solar material.

Stuart, founder of Charge Around Australia, is collaborating with the University of Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia. The University has developed highly innovative printed solar panels, which are ultra-flexible, ultra-thin and ultra-lightweight and incredibly cheap to produce (approximately £5 per square metre). The sheets, made largely from recycled PET plastic – widely used to make convenience-sized soft drink bottles, can in turn be recycled, unlike traditional solar panels which end up in landfill.

Stuart explained: “We wanted to visit Montgomery Church in Wales primary for the ‘Under One Sun’ international schools programme as they have an excellent reputation for science and technology.

“Engaging with schools is an important element of the project. We want to educate young people about the importance of solar energy for the future of our planet. When we set off later this year on our three-month challenge the students can track our daily progress. We will also be visiting Australian schools almost every day during our trip so there’s plenty of opportunity for UK students and those in Oz to join forces and learn from each other’s experiences. This is truly an international project.”

Anna Griggs, headteacher at the school, said: “We all know that our use of fossil fuels is not sustainable and that we need to find solutions to our current energy problems. When we found out the Charge Around Australia project is going to use printed solar material to power an electric vehicle around such a vast country as Australia, we absolutely wanted to find out more about this innovative STEM project.

“Solar power will be increasingly important for future generations, and this is an exciting opportunity to learn first-hand from the experts about new innovations in technology which could be a game changer here in the UK and around the world.”

Dr Ben Vaughan from the Centre for Organic Electronics at The University of Newcastle in Australia explained: “One of the greatest issues the world is facing is energy production. We have billions of people who still have little to no access to clean energy or electrical power and the effect of this on climate change is being felt world-wide. Imagine a world where any surface in any location can become an opportunity for sustainable energy generation. Charge Around Australia will help us bring attention to these issues and understand how new, adaptable technologies can change the script on these critical global challenges.

“This will be the first time our printed solar panels have been used to power an electric vehicle, let alone as a portable, retractable system that moves with the car, so it’s very much an intrepid venture in every sense. We were very excited to be able to talk to the students in Montgomery about our thought-provoking and revolutionary concepts that will help to decarbonise our world.”

To find out more, visit, follow @CAAOz on Twitter or Instagram #UnderOneSun or like the Charge Around Australia Facebook page. For information on volunteering, sponsorship or supporting the project email

PICTURE: Montgomery Church in Wales pupils (from left) Josh Cardwell, Isabelle Goodwin, Freya Corfield, Kai Jones and Stuart McBain from Charge Around Australia.

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