Solar-powered boat to circumnavigate the globe

planetsolar-boat1What its builders say is the world’s largest solar-powered boat, PlanetSolar, was unveiled in Germany today (Feb. 25) in anticipation of a planned trip around the world in 2011. The trip will be the first by a boat using exclusively solar power.

“(We have) an opportunity for our civilisation,” notes the PlanetSolar team on its web site. “Using technology and our knowledge to improve our energy efficiency and promote renewable energies is the path towards a lasting world.”

PlanetSolar will first hit the water in late March 2010 for testing. For the planned 2011 trip, the two-person crew will straddle the Equator as much as possible in order to maximize the amount of sunlight to power the vessel. The 40,000-kilometer trip is expected to last around 140 days

The planned route has the boat crossing the Atlantic Ocean, going through the Panama Canal, crossing the Pacific and then the Indian Ocean, and then passing through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean.

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Stopovers planned along the route include New York, San Francisco, Darwin in Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Abu Dhabi and Marseille.

PlanetSolar is a multlihull vessel topped by a large array of photovoltaic solar panels, constructed by Knierim Yacht Club, in Kiel, Germany.

The multihull boat will be home to two sailors during the round-the-world attempt. It can accommodate up to 50 people during the promotional trips planned at each port of call.

PlanetSolar runs solely on energy found in light. Removable parts allow it to expose a total of 500 square meters of photovoltaic surface (solar panels) to the sun. This, says the PlanetSolar team, makes it the biggest solar run ship in the world. Here are some more specs on the boat:

  • Length: 31 m
  • Width: 15 m
  • Length with flaps: 35 m
  • Width with flaps: 23 m
  • Height: 6 m
  • Weight: 60 t
  • Surface of solar modules: 500 m2
  • Panel output: 22%
  • Power received by the sun: 103.4 kW (138.7HP)
  • Average engine consumption: 20 kW (26.8HP)
  • Average speed: 8 kt (15 km/h)
  • Maximum speed: 14 kt (25 km/h)
  • Crew: 2 skippers
  • People that can go onboard: 200
  • Autonomy: Never-ending solar navigation

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