World's largest all-solar-powered boat shines in NYC

Jun 18, 2013

The world's largest fully solar-powered boat, "Turanor PlanetSolar," docked in New York on Tuesday during a mission to study the effects of climate change on the Gulf Stream current.

Sponsored in part by the Swiss government, the 35-meter (115-foot) catamaran is crowned with that retract in port but open like a bird's wings to take best advantage of the sun's rays when at sea.

In May 2012, the vessel became the first solar-powered vehicle to travel all the way around the globe.

It was an epic adventure that took 584 days and spanned more than 60,000 kilometers (37,282 miles). Weighing in at 90 tonnes, it travels at an average five knots.

"Instead of being a museum somewhere in some harbor, the boat is now engaged in this ," said Gerard d'Aboville, the boat's French captain, referring to the boat's latest mission.

The ship set sail from La Ciotat in France just over two months ago. And since it has made stops including the southeastern US city of Miami on its information gathering mission on climate change and the Gulf current.

"Our main goal is to study the Gulf Stream," he said.

"I myself live in Brittany, west of France, and we are very worried. We all know that if the Gulf Stream changes, even a little bit, our climate will deteriorate quiet a lot."

The sends a huge mass of warmer water from the to the North Atlantic, giving Atlantic Europe a relatively temperate climate for its latitude.

Scientists and crew aboard the world's largest solar boat, Switzerland's MS Turanor PlanetSolar, New York, June 18, 2013. The solar-powered boat runs exclusively on energy from the sun and eliminates the need for fueled electricity, allowing researchers to collect uncontaminated data along the Gulf Stream with high-tech instruments that track changes in ocean currents and climate.

I also keeps areas it crosses in the Americas, such the West Indies, from being excessively arid.

PlanetSolar will be cruising through August with stops planned in Boston, Newfoundland, Iceland and Norway.

A journalist takes photos of the solar panels on the world's largest solar boat, Switzerland's MS Turanor PlanetSolar, on June 18, 2013 at North Cove Marina in New York. In May 2012, the vessel became the first solar-powered vehicle to travel all the way around the globe.

"Our goal is to understand the complex interactions between physics, biology and climate ... to refine ," said Martin Beniston of the Institute of Environmental Sciences at the University of Geneva.

"Since the ship is powered by solar energy it does not emit any polluting substances that could distort the data collected on its 8,000-kilometer journey between Miami and Bergen, Norway," he added.

Explore further: Study shows forward osmosis desalination not energy efficient

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Cold wind makes Norwegian Sea warmer

Oct 11, 2012

(Phys.org)—The Gulf Stream and the warm waters it brings are one reason the climate is milder along the Norwegian coastline than other places so far north. Researchers now know that the Gulf Stream is not ...

Skipper unveils world's biggest solar-powered boat

Feb 25, 2010

A skipper hoping to become the first to sail round the world using solar power said his catamaran could carve a wake for pollution-free shipping as he unveiled the record-breaking yacht Thursday.

The role of physics in the sinking of the Titanic

Apr 02, 2012

A century on from the sinking of the Titanic, Physics World science writer Richard Corfield takes a look at the cascade of events that led to the demise of the 'unsinkable' ship, taking into account the ma ...

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.

Recommended for you

User comments : 37

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

ubavontuba
1.8 / 5 (26) Jun 18, 2013
It was an epic adventure that took 584 days and spanned more than 60,000 kilometers (37,282 miles). Weighing in at 90 tonnes, it travels at an average five knots.
This just serves to prove the absurd ineptitude of the green cult. € 12.5 million ($16.7 million) spent for a vessel which is slower and less reliable than a simple sailing vessel.

Porgie
2 / 5 (23) Jun 18, 2013
Good point ubavontuba. Can it carry cargo? No, not yet. Can it cut shipping costs? Hardly. Good intentions are a dime a dozen. Obama dumped 3/4 of a billion of tax payer dollars on 'pie in the sky' vehicles. Let free enterprise take over and it will be done. But not by governments buying votes with tax dollars.
ToxicEuphoria
2.1 / 5 (19) Jun 18, 2013
The only science this article has to offer is the science of government spending, specifically the amount of waste generated everytime a central planner attempts to engineer an economy.
semmsterr
4.1 / 5 (16) Jun 19, 2013
It was an epic adventure that took 584 days and spanned more than 60,000 kilometers (37,282 miles). Weighing in at 90 tonnes, it travels at an average five knots.
This just serves to prove the absurd ineptitude of the green cult. € 12.5 million ($16.7 million) spent for a vessel which is slower and less reliable than a simple sailing vessel.


You are aware, aren't you, that the ultimate aim is a worthy one, and everything has to start somewhere, developing to full potential over time?
Matthewwa25
1.6 / 5 (14) Jun 19, 2013
It was an epic adventure that took 584 days and spanned more than 60,000 kilometers (37,282 miles). Weighing in at 90 tonnes, it travels at an average five knots.
This just serves to prove the absurd ineptitude of the green cult. € 12.5 million ($16.7 million) spent for a vessel which is slower and less reliable than a simple sailing vessel.



No question that solar has a lot of work.
_ilbud
3.6 / 5 (20) Jun 19, 2013
Why haven't the first three idiotic comments been deleted. Fatmericans whining about Obama and their fear of clean drinking water is so boring.
antialias_physorg
3.9 / 5 (20) Jun 19, 2013
You are aware, aren't you, that the ultimate aim is a worthy one, and everything has to start somewhere, developing to full potential over time?

Yes. I'm sick and tired of people wanting fully optimized products from research basics within 5 minutes.
Reality check, people. Doing stuff takes time. Researching stuff takes even more time. When did the attention span of the average person drop below the time it takes to read an article?

Oh right...twitter, facebook, tumblr, ...
geokstr
1.5 / 5 (16) Jun 19, 2013
Couldn't they increase the efficiency by putting a windmill on each solar cell?
Anda
4.8 / 5 (13) Jun 19, 2013
Swiss people and authorities have been concerned for the environment for many years.
They sponsore this boat and also the solar plane (first to fly all day and night) who is visiting you americans these days.
Those are great achievements, and as @antialias says doing stuff takes time...
Step by step.
ubavontuba
1.4 / 5 (19) Jun 19, 2013
[You are aware, aren't you, that the ultimate aim is a worthy one, and everything has to start somewhere, developing to full potential over time?
What's so worthy about extending precious resources, on a grand scale, for an obviously impractical and impracticable device? Any decent engineer could have figured out the power output of these solar cells simply isn't sufficient for the purpose.

And it's not about the broader purpose. Some solar research is quite exquisite. This, however, is an albatross.

And besides, solar power as a supplemental resource, is already proven.

ubavontuba
1.4 / 5 (19) Jun 19, 2013
Yes. I'm sick and tired of people wanting fully optimized products from research basics within 5 minutes.
The scope of this project far exceeds "research basics."

Reality check, people. Doing stuff takes time. Researching stuff takes even more time.
Maybe it might have helped had they done some basic research before committing to this white elephant. Or maybe you think the only way to test a concept is to immediately go full scale?

When did the attention span of the average person drop below the time it takes to read an article?
That's a good question. Why didn't you take the time to research this fiasco before commenting, as I had?

Oh right...twitter, facebook, tumblr, ...
So put down your "smart" phone and do a little basic research before commenting.

ubavontuba
1.4 / 5 (18) Jun 19, 2013
Couldn't they increase the efficiency by putting a windmill on each solar cell?
LOL. How about surrounding it with a giant solar collector (reflector that concentrates light)?

Wait, even better, attach a blimp carrying a giant magnifying glass! LOL

ubavontuba
1.3 / 5 (16) Jun 19, 2013
Swiss people and authorities have been concerned for the environment for many years.
They sponsore this boat
Poor foresight on their part.

and also the solar plane (first to fly all day and night) who is visiting you americans these days.
Which is far worse! This program cost $150 million, for a single occupancy civilian vehicle! And it's absolutely as (if not more) impracticable.

Those are great achievements,
I'm not impressed. Did the Swiss never learn to at least model and study an expensive concept before going full scale?

and as @antialias says doing stuff takes time...
Step by step.
So where were the intermediate steps which would have shown these concepts to be the debacles they are?

I know, let's next build a solar submarine! The Swiss will gladly hand out buckets 'o cash!

antialias_physorg
4.2 / 5 (17) Jun 19, 2013
The scope of this project far exceeds "research basics."

But you are aware that there is quite a bit of interesting research going on in solar cells, yes? You must be reading physorg at least occasionally.

There are enterprises where speed isn't of the essnce - but low (fuel) cost is paramount.
think about (way) off shore wind/wavefarmfarms or geothermal powerplants that may need to tranport their created hydrogen to shore. What would be wrong with a fleet of slow moving, solar powered tankers?

Maybe it might have helped had they done some basic research before committing to this white elephant.

By that retarded logic no one would ever do anything.

Some people have so little vision (like you) - that they need a demonstrator once in a while.
ubavontuba
1.3 / 5 (16) Jun 19, 2013
But you are aware that there is quite a bit of interesting research going on in solar cells, yes?
Of course. And I fully support alternative energy research (within reason).

You must be reading physorg at least occasionally.
Occasionally.

There are enterprises where speed isn't of the essnce - but low (fuel) cost is paramount.
think about (way) off shore wind/wavefarmfarms or geothermal powerplants that may need to tranport their created hydrogen to shore. What would be wrong with a fleet of slow moving, solar powered tankers?
They'd be a navigational disaster, as they'd be unable to avoid dangerous weather, and strong currents or wind could drive them into the rocks. KABOOM!

By that retarded logic no one would ever do anything.
So you think nothing can be learned without going full scale? Maybe you think the Wrights' first plane should have been a 747? ...Goddard's first rocket a moonshot?

continued...

ubavontuba
1.2 / 5 (17) Jun 19, 2013
Some people have so little vision (like you) -
So you want to make it personal now? What is wrong with you?

that they need a demonstrator once in a while.
Raw concepts are generalyy poorly served with full scale demonstrators. Full scale demonstrators are best utilized for preproduction and full production models.

Boeing doesn't build a single jet without first testing multiple CAD and scale models.

Genep34
4.2 / 5 (11) Jun 19, 2013
ubavontuba - you are aware that if you have to say all that to make a point, you have already lost
ubavontuba
1.3 / 5 (14) Jun 19, 2013
ubavontuba - you are aware that if you have to say all that to make a point, you have already lost
LOL. Apparently you can neither read nor reason.
animah
4 / 5 (9) Jun 19, 2013
Uba, you're getting angry because the Swiss don't do things +your+ way? Really?

Tell me, do you get angry when the Mongolian Government subsidizes the poor?

Do you feel the urge to +tell+ them and the world, because surely they will care?

I know, you'll go all "I'm not angry" on me. But you are!

Caalm doown. The world's a big, big place. It has room for lots and lots of ideas.
ubavontuba
1.3 / 5 (14) Jun 20, 2013
Uba, you're getting angry because the Swiss don't do things +your+ way? Really?

Tell me, do you get angry when the Mongolian Government subsidizes the poor?

Do you feel the urge to +tell+ them and the world, because surely they will care?

I know, you'll go all "I'm not angry" on me. But you are!

Caalm doown. The world's a big, big place. It has room for lots and lots of ideas.
So you think you're all psychic and can perceive my moods and thoughts from afar? How presumptuous of you.

animah
4.1 / 5 (10) Jun 20, 2013
I was just referring to the tone of your posts which seems a little testy, no ad hominem intended.

Anyway there are 101 reasons why this boat might be a good idea, including possibly:

- Testing component degradation curves under realistic long term mechanical (e.g. waves) and environmental (e.g. salt) stress
- Showcasing Swiss engineering (so-called goodwill funding)
- Support for some form of joint marketing initiative between the Swiss Govt and industry, which is often used as a sweetener to get big corp to invest in or send jobs to a country

But my main point is who knows? Be tolerant, they may have good reasons you know nothing about.
ubavontuba
1.3 / 5 (14) Jun 20, 2013
I was just referring to the tone of your posts which seems a little testy, no ad hominem intended.
1,000 character limit leaves little room for finesse.

Anyway there are 101 reasons why this boat might be a good idea, including possibly:

- Testing component degradation curves under realistic long term mechanical (e.g. waves) and environmental (e.g. salt) stress
Easily and cheaply modeled by attaching a line of panels to an existing craft.

- Showcasing Swiss engineering (so-called goodwill funding)
It was designed by a New Zealand company and built in Germany.

- Support for some form of joint marketing initiative between the Swiss Govt and industry, which is often used as a sweetener to get big corp to invest in or send jobs to a country
Essentially, a bribe?

But my main point is who knows? Be tolerant, they may have good reasons you know nothing about.
Possibly, but this adds nothing to the perceived value of the product.

continued...

ubavontuba
1.3 / 5 (13) Jun 20, 2013
It's my understanding that after the around the world cruise it was supposed to move to the Mediterranean to become a chartered luxury yacht. But these plans seem to have changed. It's now going to be used as a scientific platform to study the Gulf Stream. I suspect this has to do with it being completely impracticable as a luxury yacht in its current form (it doesn't even have air conditioning).

And I hope they don't get caught up in any nor'easters along the Gulf Stream. A nasty nor'easter could be very dangerous for this vessel.

I would not be surprised if eventually most of the solar panels are removed and it's refitted as a conventional yacht. Either that or it gets tied up somewhere, and forgotten.

animah
4.3 / 5 (6) Jun 20, 2013
> Little room for finesse.

Okay if you can't do finesse, maybe try politeness? It's definitely easier.

> Easily and cheaply modeled by attaching a line of panels to an existing craft.

You forget CONVERTING an existing craft's engines and fuel tanks to electric, AND the fact 30m power boats are not designed to safely (i.e. commercially) circumnavigate the globe and are INVARIABLY purpose built. Not to mention, did you notice it's a wave piercer? Do you even know what that means?

> It was designed by whoever.

Showcasing cooperation then? As I said, who knows? The point was that you're too judgmental about things you know too little about.

And the Swiss Govt sponsoring luxury yachts? You're right, that HAS to be the only thing going on here, and can be judge accordingly.
ubavontuba
1.3 / 5 (14) Jun 20, 2013
Respect != finesse
Perhaps my writing style is too abrasive for your taste, but I intend no disrespect. However I'm not going to be agreeable to every article and every opinion just to ease your feelings. If the subject matter is apparently flawed, to say otherwise would be to lie.

You forget CONVERTING an existing craft's engines and fuel tanks to electric, AND the fact 30m power boats are not designed to safely (i.e. commercially) circumnavigate the globe and are INVARIABLY purpose built.
Electric loads are easily simulated.

Not to mention, did you notice it's a wave piercer? Do you even know what that means?
Sure. The floats are designed to pierce through waves rather than ride over them (makes for a smoother ride).

continued...
ubavontuba
1.3 / 5 (14) Jun 20, 2013
Showcasing cooperation then? As I said, who knows? The point was that you're too judgmental about things you know too little about.
So if I build a car that's inherently unsafe, terribly oversized, tops out at only 15mph, costs $16.7 million to build using public funds, I shouldn't have to answer to anyone?

Cool. Send me the money! I'll start today!

animah
4.3 / 5 (6) Jun 20, 2013
Would $16m to design, build, test and successfully drive an entirely electric car capable of circumnavigating the world by road without breaking down and requiring a tow once be a reasonable budget?

Errr... Yes? I've been in listed companies that did a lot less with a lot more!

ubavontuba
1.3 / 5 (13) Jun 20, 2013
Okay if you can't do finesse, maybe try politeness? It's definitely easier.
You mean like the example shown in your first post?

Sorry, that was a bit brusque.

Like I said, I don't mean to be disrespectful. My intent is merely to convey my opinions as fully, but briefly as possible. And I would suggest that tone is imposed by the reader. Perhaps if you read my posts with a wry smile on your face, the tone you provide might better match the tone I intend?

And the Swiss Govt sponsoring luxury yachts? You're right, that HAS to be the only thing
going on here, and can be judge accordingly.
Wow, and you talk to me about TONE?

I only conveyed information that is publicly available and provided clearly stated personal opinions. Perhaps you think posters to this forum shouldn't have questions, concerns, or opinions? Why then would they post?

ubavontuba
1.3 / 5 (14) Jun 20, 2013
Would $16m to design, build, test and successfully drive an entirely electric car capable of circumnavigating the world by road without breaking down and requiring a tow once be a reasonable budget?
First, the Turanor PlanetSolar has broken down. It was stuck in port for two weeks at one point during its world cruise.

Errr... Yes?
A practical car? Sure. A car that's inherently impractical and unsafe? No. What would be the point of that?

I've been in listed companies that did a lot less with a lot more!
LOL. Perhaps if a brave soul were to stand up and express his/her concerns about these over budgeted white elephant projects, R&D might find extra money in their budgets.

animah
3.7 / 5 (7) Jun 20, 2013
> Wow, and you talk to me about TONE?

Finally!

Now you've been given a taste of your own medicine, hopefully you'll understand why it's so annoying for the rest of us.
NikFromNYC
1.3 / 5 (12) Jun 20, 2013
The road to Hell....
ubavontuba
1.3 / 5 (14) Jun 21, 2013
And the Swiss Govt sponsoring luxury yachts? You're right, that HAS to be the only thing going on here, and can be judge accordingly.
Wow, and you talk to me about TONE?
Finally!

Now you've been given a taste of your own medicine, hopefully you'll understand why it's so annoying for the rest of us.
Wow. You really think you showed me with your deliberately asinine sarcasm, don'cha?

And learn how to use the quotation feature properly.

Neinsense99
2.5 / 5 (11) Jun 21, 2013
Ubavontuba: "1,000 character limit leaves little room for finesse. " It leaves YOU little room for finesse. FYI, the Gish Gallop is not a form of finesse.
Neinsense99
2.7 / 5 (12) Jun 21, 2013
The road to Hell....

And your light is green?
Howhot
4.1 / 5 (8) Jun 22, 2013
Nice boat!
Pkunk_
1 / 5 (4) Jun 24, 2013
geokstr
Couldn't they increase the efficiency by putting a windmill on each solar cell?

Apart from being quite inefficient , windmill's tend to play havoc with things like the boats aerodynamics. Also a big enough windmill will probably mean that the laws of physics will come into play esp. if the wind is blowing in the opposite direction.
Jeddy_Mctedder
2 / 5 (7) Jun 24, 2013
Im sympathetic to people complaining about government waste. This 'albatross' however is a symbol. The symbol of 'solar' while ostensibly wasteful of resources pales in comparision to the hubdeeds of Billions wasted by government for sheerfly wasteful non productive and non symbolic purposes.

Western governments are at a tippiing point of debt to gdp. Trillions of dollars in debt were accumulated over decades by massive contracting, welfare, prisons, military, lawsuits against government, alphabet soup agency regulation and the massive government employment rolls.
From all 4 corners there is governmrnt waste. This specific solar boat is NOT the item to pick on when pointing this problem put. This is a cute fun little cheerleader for progress. Stupid yes, the symbol of government waste. No.