World's biggest solar boat docks in Hong Kong

Aug 15, 2011
There is "huge potential" to use alternative energy in the shipping industry, the man behind the world's biggest solar boat said on Monday as it arrived in Hong Kong as part of a global voyage.

There is "huge potential" to use alternative energy in the shipping industry, the man behind the world's biggest solar boat said on Monday as it arrived in Hong Kong as part of a global voyage.

PlanetSolar, a 31 by 15-metre (100 by 50 foot) white catamaran, is equipped with more than 500 square metres (5,380 square feet) of solar panelling and can reach a top speed of around 15 knots, equivalent to 25 kilometres (15 miles) per hour.

"We see there is a huge potential for solar boats," project founder Raphael Domjan said.

"We have the technology to change and we are optimistic."

Domjan acknowledged it was unlikely cargo and commercial ships would rely on alone, but said it could be combined with other sources like wind.

The boat, which can carry up to 50 passengers, arrived in Hong Kong from the Philippines after embarking on a world tour from Monaco last September.

The 60-tonne Swiss-flagged vessel was built in Germany and cost 18 million euro ($26 million).

Merchant shipping accounts for 4.5 percent of the world's total , according to United Nations figures.

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User comments : 6

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Jeddy_Mctedder
1.6 / 5 (5) Aug 15, 2011
i wonder how much the savings are from avoiding fuel and engine maintainance costs per 1000 miles
Techno1
1 / 5 (2) Aug 15, 2011
i wonder how much the savings are from avoiding fuel and engine maintainance costs per 1000 miles


A lot.

The solar panels produce about 2 gasoline gallon equivalents of energy per hour, however, since electric engines are around 80% efficent vs 30% for most gasoline or diesels, then this thing really gets about 2.66 times as much distance per gallon equivalent as compared to an ICE boat motor, which ends up being 5.3 times as much distance per absolute energy unit.

However, I don't think this works at all, in terms of economics, because solar panels are so expensive, unless he got his from somebody selling them very, very cheap, or something else...

I figure it would take around 60 years of non-stop daylight operation for the panels to pay for themselves in fuel cost savings.
brassbutia
1 / 5 (1) Aug 15, 2011
A Swiss friend told me that a lot of solar firms were bought over by the oil giant companies to create a monopoly - controlling energy prices, making solar panels inaccessible to the average masses who get turn off by the price tag.
ROBTHEGOB
1 / 5 (2) Aug 16, 2011
Might be true - monopolists are not likely to sit idly by while their power stranglehold is threatened.
John_balls
1 / 5 (1) Aug 16, 2011
i wonder how much the savings are from avoiding fuel and engine maintainance costs per 1000 miles


.

However, I don't think this works at all, in terms of economics, because solar panels are so expensive, unless he got his from somebody selling them very, very cheap, or something else...

I figure it would take around 60 years of non-stop daylight operation for the panels to pay for themselves in fuel cost savings.


How would it take 60 years?? Have you taken into consideration or calculated the cost of solar panels they currently use??

Do you even know what it costs to fill a gas tank of 32 foot boat that requires 10 hrs of usage?
Lord_jag
not rated yet Aug 16, 2011
Honestly... there's a cost of about $60K USD in solar panels. What percentage of the boat cost ($26 million) is that? Insignificant.

Assuming you have even a small battery bank, you can charge up on days that you're not underway.

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