PlanetSolar Unveils World’s Largest Solar Boat

Recently,  PlanetSolar unveiled the world’s largest solar powered boat and announced plans to embark on a round-the-world tour in early 2011.

The boat will receive all of its energy from high-efficiency solar cells from SunPower Corp. (Nasdaq:SPWRA, SPWRB), a California-based manufacturer of solar cells, solar panels and solar systems.

The 30-meter long catamaran is covered with 500 square meters ofphotovoltaic solar panels made up of approximately 38,000 solar cells.Each cell offers an efficiency of at least 22 percent, the highestefficiency available on the commercial market. All of the boat’scomponents are made up of classic technology which is currentlyavailable, demonstrating the feasibility of reliable, solar-poweredwatercraft.

With an average speed of 8 knots, the catamaran is expected to bethe fastest solar boat to cross the Atlantic Ocean and the first tocross both the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The round-the-world tour willrun from East to West, along an equatorial route. Planned stopoversinclude Hamburg, London, Paris, New York, San Francisco, Singapore, andAbu Dhabi. At each stop the solar boat will be available for publicdisplay, offering an educational opportunity to all visitors. The boatwill be home to two sailors during the trip, and can accommodate up to50 visitors during the stopovers at each port of call.

"We are excited that the solar-powered boat is now a reality," saidRaphael Domjan, CEO of PlanetSolar SA. "As we embark on the next phaseof this project, we look forward to our around-the-world trip, and areconfident that SunPower’s proven technology will get us there."

SunPower’s high-efficiency solar cells lead the industry with up to50 percent more power than conventional technology, and two to fourtimes the efficiency of thin film technologies. The same SunPower solarcells integrated into the skin of the solar boat are a popular choicefor rooftop solar systems on homes and light commercial installationsin the U.S.

"We are proud to support the unveiling of the world’s largest solarboat," said SunPower Senior Director Jorn Jurgens. "SunPower’stechnology will enable the catamaran to circumnavigate the globe withthe speed and performance expected from the planet’s most powerfulsolar."

Based in Switzerland, PlanetSolar has brought together aninternational team of physicists, engineers, boat builders and othersto demonstrate the feasibility of renewable energies and environmentalprotection. Raphael Domjan will be the boat’s skipper alongside thefamous French sailor Gerard d’Aboville. The boat was constructed by Knierim Yacht Club, in Kiel, Germany and will be launched for testing in late March.

Image courtesy of PlanetSolar

AlisonPruitt is a freelance writer/editor living near Washington DC. She haswritten about a variety of issues, including education, healthcare, IT,the arts, and energy/environment — and has worked with the U.S.Department of Energy. She has a B.A. from Oberlin College and a Ph.D.in English Literature from Rutgers University.

Original Article on EnergyBoom

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