The World’s First 100% Solar Boat
But did you know of the world’s first 100% solar powered boat? Well, read about the Turanor PlanetSolar (Turanor is Elvish for “power of the sun”), that is the only 100% solar powered boat to have circumnavigated the world.
It’s unusual looking as it is – it’s a catamaran (a two hulled ship) after all. But the Turanor PlanetSolar is powered by an impressive 512 square meters (approx. 5,500 square feet) of photovoltaic cells that operate at an efficiency of 22.6%.
Spread out all over the deck (both front and back), the cells feed power into 8.5 tons of lithium-ion batteries, that are stored in the two hulls of the 89,000 kg (approx. 100 ton) sea going vessel.
Now don’t be under the impression that the vessel is a solar powered speedboat. The 35m long and 23m wide catamaran lugs two 60 kW electric motors and manages an average speed of 5 knots (9.26 kmph), and a rated top speed of merely 14 knots (26 kmph).
Solar Boat – Not Keen on Days Without Sunlight
Also, one feature of the boat – or a shortcoming, you may call it – is that you cannot just take the boat from A to B. It has an onboard weather mapping system that offers a three-day prediction of cloud conditions. Even though its battery packs can power it for 72 hours without the sun, the ship’s crew takes care to ensure that they don’t run into cloud cover.
However, that being said, the Turanor PlanetSolar is an excellent example of just how versatile the application of solar energy can be. The ship started from Monaco (Italy) on September 27th, 2010 and retuned on May 4th, 2012, visiting 28 countries and stopping at 52 cities on its way to circumnavigating the world, powered by nothing but the sun alone.
It’s certainly an indication of where the future of ships could possibly be headed. In fact, the technology behind the ship also ties in well with initiatives such as the Carbon War Room, where one of the long running projects has been to promote global shipping efficiency.
To read more about the solar boat, click here.