[Nuon Solar Team Nuna 8 | Winner of the 2015 World Solar Challenge]
It's been a long month.
Between working on some inspiring new projects, throwing myself into the 6th month of my 2nd daughters' journey on earth (that bit's been exhilaratingly exhausting!) and a few trips around Australia, I must admit I was feeling a little bit jaded yesterday.
So as I headed off to Sydney University last night, there might possibly have been a few other places I'd rather have been.
Jump forward 12 hours and I'm bouncing off the walls again and ready for (almost) anything.
And the reason for this? Courtesy of the Consulate-General of the Netherlands in Sydney, I spent an evening with an inspiring group of Dutch students who had just come 1st and 2nd in the 2015 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge.
Nuon Solar Team and Solar Team Twente raced teams from around the world over a 3,022 kilometre course from Darwin to Adelaide, with the Nuon Solar Team winning the Challenger Class in 37 hours 56:12 (an almost unbelievable average speed of 91.75 km/hr) with Solar Team Twente only 8 minutes and 20 seconds behind in second place. Given a Dutch team from Eindhoven University also won the Cruiser Class, it would be fair to say there was a bit of a Dutch celebration last night!
Amongst many inspiring conversations, one stands out. I spent a large chunk of the evening talking to Mark Hupkens, the team leader of the Nuon Solar Team. Aside from being ridiculously young, his drive and belief in the ability of his generation to find solutions to some of the challenges the world faces was exactly what I needed to (sorry I can't resist) recharge my own depleted batteries.
It's when I meet people like Mark that I re-inspire myself to keep trying to change what small part of the world for the better that I can. It's never easy, but one of the best things about operating in the space I do is that you get to meet and work with some of the most amazing individuals you could hope to come across.
Mark was one of them, but he was also surrounded by a whole army of other students from Delft and Twente Universities who are equally as inspiring. From what I could see, their teamwork was one of the key reasons that they were so successful in the race. Their passion was infectious and the cleantech journey they've already been on is more than most people will achieve in a lifetime.
Mark did have a couple of questions for me that took the shine off the evening a little mind you.
"We've all come from the other side of the world to take part in the World Championship of solar racing because Australia has the most amazing solar resources imaginable. Where are all the solar power stations in this country? Why isn't Australia leading the clean energy revolution?"
I don't know Mark, I really don't know... But if people like you and all the other competitors in the Solar Challenge keep doing what you're doing, we have a much better chance of making Australia step-up to play a bigger role in solving climate change - and that is certainly something worth re-charging the batteries to keep fighting for.