The Solar Powered Boat that Circumnavigated the World
On Septebmer 27, 2010, the MS Turanor PlanetSolar set sail from the port of Monaco. The goal? To become the first solar-powered ship to circumnavigate the globe.
On May 6, 2012, 587 days, 28 countries, 3 oceans, 11 seas and 60,006 km later, the PlanetSolar team achieved just that. Below you will find out more about the world tour, the crew and further details about the largest solar powered boat in the world.
It All Started…
In Spring 2004, the seed of an idea a little crazy germinates in the mind of Raphael Domjan. He is 39 years old and Swiss. He was trained as an electronics engineer but he is also ambulance man, jet and glider pilot, and mountain guide. In love with Nature, he is a Jack of all trades and a fervent defender of clean energy. Like others, he feels that we rapidly need to find alternatives to our wild oil consumption but that, at the same time, the huge potential of renewable energy still need to be proven and promoted.
Raphael then imagines an extraordinary adventure inspired by his reading of Jules Verne’s novels; travelling around the world aboard a ship which is propelled by only solar energy. It’s an ecological and technological journey that seems feasible to him but it’s something that no one has ever tried.
The dream starts taking shape in February 2008 thanks to a meeting with M. Immo Ströher who has a long-standing interest in solar technology and possesses a solid experience in that matter. The German businessman and the Swiss Phileas Fogg become partners. By combining their capital, their ideas and their inexhaustible energy, Raphaël Domjan and Immo Ströher seek to demonstrate that a motor vessel can function from today without using any fossil fuel and that this clean and eco-aware navigation has a commercial future.
After two years of designing and assembling in Kiel’s shipyards, the idea has become a project and the result is a boat that remains unique so far: the Tûranor PlanetSolar. Beyond the dream and the emotion that this adventure creates, the PlanetSolar project brings together an international team made up of physicians, engineers, shipbuilders and sailors that contribute day after day, miles after miles, to the success of first trip around the world using solar energy.
The MS Turanor PlanetSolar
The designer of PlanetSolar, Craig Loomes from New Zealand, has already imagined numerous innovative ships around the world. Several months of research enabled him to finish the ideal dimensions and design of the double hull vessel with respect to the chosen journey. Engineers not only had to optimise the energy collection and stocking but also the aerodynamics, the ship’s propulsion and the choice of materials.
The incredibly light carbon structure of this futuristic vessel with electric motorisation is extremely durable. PlanetSolar is the biggest solar ship in the world. The 537 m2 of photovoltaic panel power 6 blocks of lithium-ion battery, a technology that offers maximal power and energy density. Each new sunrise provides the catamaran with the light needed to continue its journey.
Baptised Tûranor PlanetSolar, which means power of the sun in J.R.R Tolkien mythology, this clean and quiet vessel launched in March 2010 in Kiel, Germany, in the shipyards of Knierim Yachtbau after 14 months of construction.
Length with flaps: 35m
Width with flaps: 23m
Surface area of solar modules: 537 m2
PV panel efficiency: 18.8 %
Installed PV power: 93.5 kW (127.0 HP)
Maximum engine power: 120 kW
Average engine consumption: 20 kW (26.8 HP)
Autonomy: never-ending solar navigation
Number of people that can go on board: 40
The catamaran set sail with a crew of six and was reduced to four for the second leg of the journey. During their journey, six former French soldiers were also dispatched to the boat for protection around the Gulf of Aden, a notorious stretch of water between Yemen and Somalia nicknamed ‘Pirate Alley’ [source]. Below you can see the names and pictures of all crew members that were onboard PlanetSolar during it’s trip around the globe.
PlanetSolar now holds four naval records: the fastest crossing of the atlantic ocean by solar boat (26 days 19 hours 10 minutes); the longest distance ever covered by a solar electric vehicle; the first circumnavigation achieved by solar craft (taking 1 year 7 months and 7 days); and the fastest crossing of the south china sea by solar power (4 days 23 hours 45 minutes). [Source: designboom]
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