Green Boats: PlanetSolar to circumnavigate the globe in four months
Eco Factor: Solar-powered catamaran to go around the world in 120 days.
The U.N. estimates that shipping accounts for over a billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions, which is double that of aviation. In an effort to promote the feasibility of solar energy in shipping, a group of Swiss and German engineers are building a new solar-powered catamaran dubbed PlanetSolar. The catamaran will be taken on a world tour in the beginning of 2010, a journey that’s expected to last four months.
Using nothing other than the power of the sun, the catamaran will be able to travel at an average speed of 18.5 km/h. For that speed, the catamaran will require a huge amount of solar energy, which will be generated by the world’s largest mobile solar array incorporated in the catamaran. Covering an area of over 470 square meters, the array will charge one of the world’s largest moving lithium-ion packs, which will provide power to the boat’s electric engines.
Once completed, the catamaran will weigh over 60 tons and will measure 31m X 15m with its solar panels folded. On unfolding the solar modules, the boat would measure 35mX25m. The engineers involved in the project hope to built even larger catamarans if the PlanetSolar project is successful.
The Dark Side:
Using solar energy for a record breaking attempt is practical. However, all that practicality is lost if comparing the cost of installing a huge solar array and ever bigger battery packs on commercial vessels.