by Des Ryan
On Sunday next, Planet Solar will arrive Brisbane Australia having crossed its second ocean, the Pacific. The largest solar-powered vessel in the world, it will cut an unusual figure, berthed at the city's very central Rivergate Marina.
The vessel, which has been compared to the Starship enterprise from the Star Trek Trilogy saga, is 31 metres long, 15 metres wide and stands an impressive 6.1 metres high. The yacht also has a solar surface of over 537 square metres with 38,000 solar cells.
It can reach speeds of around 13 knots, but maintains a much lower average - around 7.5 knots. At that speed it should take about 160 days to travel around the planet.
It has already made the fastest crossing of the Atlantic for a solar powered boat, and has made the longest distance of any solar electric vehicle.
The multihull is home to four sailors during the round-the-world attempt, and can accommodate up to forty people during the promotional trips planned at each port of call.
Two dedicated sailors lead the team. First, there's Swiss National and President of the Solar Planet Foundation, Raphael Domjan who is a co-founder of the project, and French National and Ship's Master, Patrick Marchesseau, an experienced professional sailor. His long experience includes being Captain of Le Ponant, the yacht that was hijacked and held for a week in 2008.
At the age of 37, founder Raphaël Domjan conceived the PlanetSolar concept, and he has done everything possible since to turn his dream into reality. Someone who genuinely 'dabbles in everything', Raphaël Domjan wears several hats and increases activities he takes part in that are closely connected to man and nature: an ambulance driver, high mountain guide, rescue specialist in perilous environments etc.
He says that it is Passion that drives him on, and that passion has this time succeeded in getting the project off the ground.
While the PlanetSolar project is an extraordinary technological and human challenge, it is also an expression of the world-view of Raphaël Domjan and of the team he has built around him:
That our planet deserves a better, brighter and less polluted future. Future technologies must be keenly investigated and solutions must be found. The project will help to motivate engineers and scientists to develop innovative technologies, inspire people around the world, and show that the impossible can become possible.
About Planet Solar:
Planet Solar, showing the scale and solar panels
The vessel itself, PlanetSolar, is a multlihull vessel topped by a large array of photovoltaic solar panels, constructed by Knierim Yacht Club, in Kiel, Germany. Additional removable parts allow it to expose a total of 537 m2 of photovoltaic surface (solar panels) to the sun.
This impressive data make it the biggest solar run ship in the world.
Built in 14 months, the boat has impressive dimensions and is yet both silent and clean. Its goal of circumnavigating the world at an average speed of 7.5 knots is no mean feat for a solar-powered craft.
Length: 31 m
Width: 15 m
Length with flaps: 35 m
Width with flaps: 23 m
Height: 6.1 m
Weight: 95 t
Surface of solar modules: 537 m2
PV panel efficiency: 18.8 %
PV installed power: 93.5 kW (127.0 HP)
Average engine consumption: 20 kW (26.8 HP)
Average speed: 7.5 kt (14 km/h)
Maximum speed: 14 kt (25 km/h)
Crew: 6 people
People that can go onboard: 40
Autonomy: Never-ending solar navigation
The boat’s top covered with the photovoltaic solar panels gives it a capacity of 93.5 kilowatts of electricity. It cost about $13 million to construct and was funded by Rivendell Holding AG, a Swiss company renewable energy investment company.
Subject to change, stopovers will take place at the following cities: Miami, Cancun, San Francisco, Brisbane (changed from Sydney), Singapore, and Abu Dhabi:
Planet Solar planned route