Solar Boat Completes Miracle Global Voyage – Inspired Yet?

584 days to sail around the world. Over 32,000 nautical miles of travel. A solar PV surface covering over 530 square meters. Six “huge blocks” of lithium-ion batteries. 12.5 million euros to build. Departure date: September 27, 2010. Arrival date: Today. Its contribution to proving clean energy as a viable form of power? Priceless. I’m talking, of course, of the PlanetSolar solar boat known as Tûranor.

When we last looked in on this clean energy mode of transportation, it was late January in Abu Dhabi on a stopover at the World Future Energy Summit. Now the boat has completed its worldwide voyage to Monaco, where it set out from what seems such a long time ago. Now it is done – boom just like that – but it will leave a lasting memory for not only its crew, but all those who have tracked its voyage and the inspiration it offered.

PlanetSolar

image via Dupont

At 31 meters long and 15 meters wide, this solar boat in catamaran form made use of photovoltaic panels from SunPower, DuPont PVF film as part of protecting the panels from a harsh marine environment and many more parts that went into making this boat a reality. It wasn’t a fast ride around the globe, as the Tûranor had a rating for an average cruising speed of just 7.5 knots, with a max speed of 14 knots under ideal conditions.

PlanetSolar

image via PlanetSolar

A roughly 20 month trip gave the crew, led on board by expedition leader Raphaël Domjan and captain Erwann Le Rouzic, plenty of time to appreciate the sights and sounds of their route. They traveled a voyage you can trace via the map below, that mostly hugged the equator where the available sunshine period is best. They crossed the Atlantic Ocean, the Panama Canal, the Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean, and finally the Suez Canal in order to re-enter the Mediterranean.

PlanetSolar

image via PlanetSolar

The original vision behind PlanetSolar, born in 2004, was inspired by Domjan’s reading of Jules Verne’s novels. It eventually morphed into an international team made up of physicians, engineers, shipbuilders and sailors, all dedicated to helping to see this grand voyage by solar power come to be a reality.

I am the editor-in-chief and founder for EarthTechling. This site is my desire to bring the world of green technology to consumers in a timely and informative matter. Prior to this my previous ventures have included a strong freelance writing career and time spent at Silicon Valley start ups.

  • Ronaldperkins

    First, this is a trimaran, not a catamaran, but who is picky.  Just think what it could have done with a few sails (wind power).  Practical solar applications make use of multiple power sources working together seamlessly to produce the best performance.  Good demonstration but not good integrated design.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lee.hackenberger Lee Hackenberger

    I’m afraid I have to agree. I think the Trimaran design was to have some deck room centering power storage at the center. Not alot of room for sun tanning and pools on deck though. I’m sure it was for demonstration purposes. Less storage could be achieved by adding Sails made of solar panels. Yes the technology exist on ebay. I’m sure this beast made a equitorial voyage because thats where solar does best. Here in Alaska ..well lets say they dont always work as advertised. I also know they have materials and paints where no spot on the ship could be used as a Solar Panel. The sad reality is nothing yet is going to provide the power needed if hit with weather conditions that can out power the ships weight. I strongly suggest a 2 day supply minimum if used commercially. At least enogh fuel to engage real power if needed to get your butt outta trouble. I do admit I like it. Specially for a first try. I think they pulled the trigger a bit early designing and building it. With a little more thought and engineering it may have been a contender.

  • Devin Serpa

    I followed Earthrace when they were making their journey. I wish I knew about this before they finished. I’ve signed a lease for solar system, will be up within a month I hope. I didn’t opt for the package that included a solar panel on my LEAF only because it was so small for such a large price, and who needs the backup camera?

  • Pfiddle

    Actually with a mast and sails (especially if they had solar-panels built in) would have been faster and ultimately safer but for a first – it’s certainly interesting.