Almost all tourist destinations near the sea have catamaran rides as a part of their long list of tourist activities. The latest advancements in technology have made it possible for the catamarans to be powered by solar energy. Planet Solar, the first catamaran to be powered by an alternate source of energy runs solely on sunlight. Planet solar is considered to be the world’s largest solar boat.
The project was conceived by Swiss explorer Raphael Domjan and financed by German entrepreneur Immo Stroher. New Zealand designer Craig Loomes directed the development of the double hull vessel which can circumnavigate the globe. After two years of design and construction, Planet Solar is proof to many technological advances, especially in the field of composite manufacturing and storage of solar energy. Technically to construct a solar boat the ratio between the size of the boat, the energy production and the storage of energy is very important. It can’t be done by just putting solar generators on top of the boat. The boat has to work effectively in water.
The energy efficient boat is 102 ft long, 29ft wide and 25ft high and has 500 solar high efficiency units that cover some 540 square feet. The large boat can accommodate up to 200 persons and move at a fairly good speed without adding to the pollution of any kind as it is completely silent. It can hit a top speed of 15 knots. Till date it has visited Miami, Cancun, Panama, Galapagos Islands, Bora Bora, Tonga, Brisbane, Manila and Hong Kong. 38000 solar cells absorb the sunlight to transform it into electrical energy that can be used to in the boat. The solar-powered boat costs around $26 million.On the first solar boat expedition around the globe, Planet Solar reached two records; fastest crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by a solar boat and longest distance ever covered by a solar electric vehicle.
A sailboat can sail with wind but nobody ever tried sailing around the world with a vessel powered by sun. Thus each new sunrise provides this catamaran with the light needed to continue its journey. For short distance navigation there is no need to charge the battery, one can use energy stored in it. For long navigation one needs sunlight to recharge the battery. The electric motors are extremely quiet and one doesnot hear the noise of the wind in the sails. So a trip with a solar boat is silent and enjoyable.
Planet solar interior has six big cabins, three showers and toilets and lots of space in the inside. The makers wanted a luxury yacht and not just an expedition boat. Other than circumnavigating the globe and going for world tours, the solar boat can be used for commercial purpose as well.
Compiled by Vishwaja Salian.