Largest-Ever Solar-Powered Boat Prepares for a World Tour

PlanetSolar
Christian Charisius

In February, the Swiss company PlanetSolar SA unveiled PlanetSolar, a floating test bed for renewable energy, during a ceremony held in Kiel, Germany. The $15-million catamaran measures 49 feet wide, 25 feet high and 102 feet long and weighs 94 tons. It is equipped with 5,380 square feet of photovoltaic solar panels, and its four motors run entirely on solar power (when it's cloudy out, energy stored in batteries powers the boat).

The designers purposely eschewed fuel-powered engines to emphasize the need to conserve global resources. The company's scientific coordinator and COO, Pascal Goulpié, hopes that its size and visibility—the boat will make a world tour next year—will inspire others to pursue alternative-energy ventures throughout the next decade.