In 2007, the first solar electric boat crossed the Atlantic Ocean. Now a Swiss group wants to cover that distance and keep going, circling the globe on nothing but the sun's power for the first time.
The team of engineers and scientists has embarked on the building of its 98-foot long vessel, dubbed Planet Solar, in Kiel, Germany. The boat's power will come from the 5,000 square feet of solar panels, about the size of two tennis courts, covering its broad deck. When the sun is shining bright above, they will convert 23 percent of the sun's rays to energy -- six percent more than average solar panels.
Even though batteries aboard Planet Solar could store enough energy to power it through up to three days of overcast weather, the sailors will try to steer clear of clouds: constant communication with the French meteorological institute, Meteo France, will help the sailors stay the sunny course.
The $11.5 million project, which is led by paramedic-turned-yachter Raphael Domjan, should be ready for its maiden voyage next summer. It will warm up in European waters before the two-skipper team, including Domjan, attempts to tackle global circumnavigation in spring 2011. At a maximum speed of 16 mph, Planet Solar would be the fastest solar electric boat. The team expects to finish the first leg of its journey across the Atlantic in about two weeks, compared to the six months the solar boat took back in 2007.
If sailing by sun becomes practical, it would be a return to the green boating methods of the days of Christopher Columbus. Those long-ago voyages relied solely on a different type of renewable energy: wind. And, if wind-powered sails could be combined with solar panels, we might really pick up the boating clip.
Keep an eye out for Planet Solar in the next couple years. The team plans to roll out floating workshops to teach about alternate energy at each of its ports of call.
I really like the idea of solar energy, and this experiment will hopefully widespread the potential of solar energy to the public. Although... I would like to see some newer concepts put forth in this experiment. It mentions using batteries to store the excess energy... I have a fuel cell/hydrogen powered car that can use a solar panel to turn distilled water in to hydrogen and oxygen, then it can convert it back when the sun is not shining. While it may not be efficient as these batteries (what kind they are are not mentioned) I personally think that even just including this in the boat would help its hype and hopefully will allow more people to realize the potential of renewable energy sources.
i would like to personaly say goodbye to them before they die.
Why not use solar and wind power to constantly generate electric power to drive the boat motor or jet? Like in Waterworld the movie by Kevin Costner
I don't get it. There is no point to this other than a world record attempt. Ever if it works so what? Good luck moving your tankers, ferries, tugboats on solar power.
Hopefully this pushes the technology and the dreamers forward.
Any ship in the world can be powered and moved by solar energy, it's just a matter of perfecting current solar technology. Never say never, it's just a matter of time, and of course money.
wow thats really cool solar energy is really coming along in the world witch is good go green
Does it make more sense to modify a sail boat to use a solar power? Modern sail boats are extremely good at catching wind. Solar panels and electric accumulators can be used as a supplemental power for electric devises and electric motor to sail in the absence of wind.
The point of this boat isn't to set world records, it's to get the new technologies across, and those technologies aren't directed at businesses, but at consumers, yacht owners mainly.
Current yachts burn huge amounts of fuel, and sails aren't all that conventional on a superyacht. Although, I'm not quite sure of how they plan on using the solar panels on current yachts, maybe if it was to be put in during the design phase?
Proud Sailor of the USN
very much needed
this thing sure ain't outrunnin a storm, though, and there are a few instances where you really need actual horsepower, and a circumnavigation attempt is just the way to see 'em. still, a great idea, good luck.
I think this is fantastic, but it still amazes me that we call it new technology. Solar energy has been in use since cave dwellers. Really we have taken this to be the energy source of the 21st century. I am also perplexed that it appears to be such a significant program for the boating environment when it appears, maybe I am naive, an easy transition.