Author J.R.R. Tolkien’s venerable and beloved The Lord of the Rings fantasy trilogy has inspired a great many pursuits, most rooted in the daydreamer’s realm of the fantastic. But the Türanor, the world’s largest solar-powered boat, may be the most technologically advanced manifestation of the author’s tremendous influence.
When we last checked in on the Türanor, a word taken from Tolkien’s series which translates to “power of the sun,” the 85-tonne catamaran boat equipped with 38,000 solar cells had been unveiled by PlanetSolar to the masses. Now, the vessel has passed its first major milestone: after the ship was lowered by crane into the waters of the Kiel firth in northern Germany, the massive vessel bobbed (almost) as easily as a rubber duck. Floatation is just the beginning. Following a year of extensive testing, the Türanor will embark on its maiden voyage around the world in a bid to capture as much solar energy as possible, all at a steady pace of 7.5 knots.
And capture sunlight it will, given the thousands of solar cells equipped here, there, and everywhere along the boat. “The 31-metre-long multi-hull vessel … is topped by scores of photovoltaic panels,” according to Guardian, “with a total area of more than 600 sq metres, that covers most of the catamaran’s surface.” More panels adorn outriggers on the starboard, port, and stern sections, all of which are able to retract during rough weather. Captured solar energy will be stored in the world’s largest lithium ion battery, which will power the boat’s emissions-free, silent electric motor.
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