Solar power is not only moving into the mainstream, it’s now taking on the ocean. Last Thursday, Feb. 25, SunPower unveiled its remarkable PlanetSolar boat, the world’s largest solar boat, which is powered completely by 500 square meters of photovoltaic panels.
The boat, 31 meters long and 15 meters wide, will be able to run at an average speed of 8 knots (9 miles per hour) and a top speed of approximately 16 knots. PlanetSolar, which weighs 60 tons and cost $24.4 million to build, was constructed at the Knierim Yacht Club in Kiel, Germany. The ship will be launched next month and taken on sea trials this summer.
The boat’s creators, Raphaël Domjan from Switzerland and Gérard d’Aboville from France, plan to circumnavigate the globe on the PlanetSolar in 2011, the first around-the-world tour on solar energy.
PlanetSolar is a multlihull vessel topped by a large array of photovoltaic solar panels. It is a boat of impressive proportions, and yet it is both silent and clean. The goal is to navigate around the world at an average speed of 8 knots, a notable achievement for a solar-powered craft.
The multihull will be home to two sailors during the round-the-world attempt, and can accommodate up to fifty people during the promotional trips planned at each port of call.