May 23, 2008 Electricity and water: we usually do everything we can to keep the two apart, but it seems the electric engine revolution is moving through the boating world as well. And when you're out on the water enjoying a speedboat, what more appropriate power source is there than the sun? The Czeers MK1 prototype solar speedboat is a 30-knot photovoltaic dream in delicious shades of carbon fiber, solar cell and lush orange leather. Solar boats for environmental warriors eh? Next thing you'll be telling us they're making wind-powered ones.

The Czeers MK1 prototype is, as far as its Dutch creators are concerned, the world's first solar speedboat. The Delft Technical University Solarboat Team built the original platform as an entry in the 2006 Nuon Frisian Solar challenge, which it easily won - and in the process, attracted serious investment power from Rabobank to get a full scale test boat built.

The resulting test boat, made from 100% carbon fiber inlaid with leather trim, photovoltaic cells on almost all horizontal surfaces and an LCD touch-screen control system, launched at the Millionaire Fair in 2007, and has since proven itself up to 30 knots on the water.

The 10-meter boat manages to pack in 14 square meters of solar panels and an 80kw electric motor. It uses no oil, produces no fumes or engine noise, and quietly generates all its own power in a completely sustainable fashion.

Czeers hopes to produce between 4 and 8 boats per year. The price? Undisclosed, but probably rather a lot.

Loz Blain

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