It’s not often that a motorsports event is so focused on sustainability, but the Rebelle Rally isn’t just any motorsports event. Unlike traditional motorsports events that focus on speed, the Rebelle Rally emphasizes precise navigation. Over eight days of competition, teams of two drive street-legal vehicles to 20 or so off-road checkpoints each day without relying on GPS. They use only analog tools, such as a scale ruler, a plotter, and a compass, to plot latitude and longitude points on a topographical map, requiring them to triangulate their location and figure out how to reach the checkpoints.
The Rebelle Rally is a women-only event, founded by Emily Miller, to provide women with the opportunity to participate in a motorsports challenge, even if they have little to no experience. Now in its eighth year, the rally attracts participants from various professions, including engineers, lawyers, CEOs, and moms, who all share a love of adventure and a competitive spirit.
In 2020, the rally introduced electric vehicles (EVs) into the competition. One example is the Rivian R1T, driven by a team consisting of a driver and a navigator. Working with the founder, Emily Miller, they solved the problem of charging the electric vehicle in remote desert locations for over a week. One approach they considered was using a diesel generator to charge, but they ultimately decided on the harder, better way – using sustainable hydrogen to keep the EVs running throughout the course.
To achieve this, they turned to Renewable Innovations, a company founded by hydrogen industry leader Robert Mount, which is dedicated to providing green power solutions. The company developed two Mobile Energy Command (MEC) systems designed to deliver sustainable power to the Rebelle Rally. The MEC systems addressed two critical issues: providing clean energy to the numerous electric vehicles participating in the event while also supplying sustainable power to each of the three base camps.
To address the need to charge the EVs, Renewable Innovations created the MEC-Hydrogen (MEC-H), which uses green hydrogen to power the EVs at both base camp and on the course. They sourced the green hydrogen from a supplier called Plug Power, which delivered it to the rally in a special tanker developed by Quantum Fuel Systems. However, there was a challenge in delivering the hydrogen to the remote desert location, requiring the use of a diesel-powered truck. Mount hopes to eventually use hydrogen fuel cell big rigs for delivery, making the process entirely sustainable.
The MEC-H was equipped with eight fuel cells that could produce 30kW of power each. It also had the capability to store up to 560kW of power through a bank of batteries. In addition to powering the EVs, the fuel cells were capable of producing clean drinking water, further contributing to the sustainability of the entire system. Despite the challenges of having to convert DC power to AC and back to DC in order to charge the EVs, Mount is looking to improve the process by building chargers that can accept DC power directly.
The MEC-Solar (MEC-S) was another critical piece in the puzzle, providing sustainable power to the three base camps. It consisted of solar panels and batteries capable of generating and storing over 50kW of electricity to power the camps’ various needs.
Overall, the Rebelle Rally serves as a unique platform that combines motorsports with sustainability, showcasing the possibilities of using green power solutions in challenging and remote environments. The collaboration between the rally and Renewable Innovations highlights the potential for sustainable energy to play a crucial role in motorsports and off-road events. As the event continues to evolve, it presents an opportunity to inspire change and innovation within the motorsports industry, moving toward a more sustainable and environmentally friendly future.