World's largest solar-powered boat completes its trip around the world
On September 27th of 2010, the world’s largest solar-powered boat – the TÛRANOR PlanetSolar – set out from Monaco on a quest to become the first boat to sail around the world using nothing put the power of the Sun. This afternoon it successfully completed that quest, arriving back in Monaco after 18 months spent circumnavigating the planet.
A crew of five piloted the 31-meter (102-ft) long, 15-meter (49-ft) wide vessel, which is covered in 537 square meters (5,780 sq ft) of solar panels. These provide power to four electric motors (two located in each hull), that have a maximum output of 120 kW and can propel the boat to a speed of 14 knots. It is constructed mainly of a light yet durable carbon fiber-sandwich material.
“For 8 years we have been working on achieving this world tour with solar energy,” expedition leader Raphaël Domjan wrote yesterday, in his most recently-posted logbook entry. “If everything goes according to plan, we should cross the last longitude line tomorrow and then reach Monaco, the departure point of our adventure. Friday May 4th, 2012, on this day early in the afternoon we shall succeed in this first journey around the world with solar energy.”
Source: PlanetSolar via Inhabitat
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If this technology can be used to power ships that would otherwise use fossil fuels, then it is applying green technology to a niche that does not have any viable alternatives.
Recently I crewed on a Lagoon cat that used to be a hybrid sailing cat. The rotating propellers in the water charged the battery banks while under sail (Cost about a knot of boatspeed which is a lot when you cruise at 7 kts)
When not under sail there was about enough power in the batteries to drive the boat for 1 hour after which the diesel generator needed to be started. Terribly underpowered vessel.
The killer was the fact that nobody around the world knows how to repair these things and the electronics in the salty sea air were not very reliable. I can tell you that that is not a good feeling when you manoeuvre the boat through some reefs in rough weather.
The boat has recently been converted to diesel to much relief of the owner and crew. All technology needs to be tried and that is cool. Over many years some things prove useable, most don't. The green argument at this early adopter stage is totally insignificant.