The world’s biggest vessel powered entirely by solar energy has been unveiled in Germany. Measuring about 31m in length, the new catamaran called PlanetSolar is able to achieve a top speed of about 25 km/h (15 knots) and can carry 50 people.
This vessel is topped by 500 square meters of solar panels that can capture up to 103.4KW of solar power to drive its engine which apparently only needs 20kW to achieve an average speed of 15kph.
The 60-ton boat costs $24.4 million and is expected to be launched this month (March 2010) before starring at Hamburg port’s 821st anniversary celebrations in May. To achieve to full photovoltaic capture, the boat features solar covered flaps that are extended at the amidships and stern.
The projects was conceived by Raphai«l Domjan, a 38 year old Swiss, who with Frenchman Gérard d’Aboville, (the first person to successfully row the Atlantic Ocean) will skipper the PlanetSolar around the world in April 2011 to showcase the practicalities of photovoltaic technology. The world tour will last about 140 days and the organizers said that the vessel can keep up an average speed of about eight knots.