Please select your home edition
Edition
Southern Spars

Tûranor PlanetSolar- Quiet Achiever

by Guy Nowell, Sail-World Asia on 24 Aug 2011
TURANOR PlanetSolar departing Hong Kong on a (very) good day for a solar-powered boat Guy Nowell © http://www.guynowell.com
'You don’t see many of those around here, do you?' 'No, because it’s the only one in the world.' Just a couple of days ago we were at Ocean Terminal, admiring the unlikely-looking but entirely real vessel in front of us, and we were not alone. It attracted a great deal of interest from passers-by and tourists, as well it might. With a flat top entirely covered with solar panels, Tûranor PlanetSolar is the one and only entirely solar powered boat in the world, and took a break in Hong Kong on a record-establishing circumnavigation.

31m long and 15m on the beam, Tûranor PlanetSolar looks very much like one of those educational toys you might buy for a brainy nephew. And with good reason. This boat is a classic example of form-follows-function. A flat top to provide maximum area for the array of solar cells; carbon fibre construction to keep weight to a minimum without compromising strength; an 11-ton array of lithium ion batteries; ultra-slippery wave piercing catamaran hulls to allow the boat to move through the water with a minimum of resistance, and super-efficient electric motors driving half-submerged 2m propellers to push it all along. Captain Erwann Le Rouzic explains that it is the totality of the design that is revolutionary, not any one of the individual parts. 'Nobody has put all these elements together in one package before,' he says. 'All the parts – the solar cells, the wave-piercing hulls and so on – are well-established design technology. But putting them all together in a vessel capable of ‘sailing’ all the way around the world… that’s what is new.'




The Tûranor PlanetSolar expedition started with the vision of founder Raphael Domjan. 'I don't know why no one has tried it before,' he says. 'What we want to show is that all the technology that is in this boat is technology you can already find on the market, rather than just in the lab, and all of it can be applied to our normal, everyday lives.'

‘Tûranor’ is a name from Lord of the Rings, meaning ‘power of the sun’. The boat was built in Kiel, in Germany, and launched in March 2010. The world-girdling expedition set out from Monaco in September last year and has so far crossed the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and passed through the Panama Canal. For one fairly obvious reason – following the maximum amount of available sunshine – Tûranor’s route around the globe stays as close as possible to the Equator, between the Tropics, with the exception of a detour south to Australia. Passage planning for a solar powered vessel has to take into account the ocean currents, waves and winds, but with sunlight and the storage capacity of the world’s biggest lithium ion battery built into the equation as well. 'It’s a completely new programme of energy management,' agrees Le Rouzic. 'Our passage from Manila to Hong Kong was delayed a few days because of typhoon conditions in the South China Sea. Apart from safety considerations, we don’t have the power to drive through big seas and winds. But when we did start out, we found ourselves motoring in some of the very best solar sailing conditions we have experienced anywhere – the day before we arrived in Hong Kong our solar panels were generating just over 1 kW per sq m



537 sq m of solar panels are capable of generating 93.5 kW of electricity, enough to drive the two main 10hp motors that push Tûranor along at 4 kts – top speed is 8.5 kts, but that’s not energy-efficient – with some left over to charge batteries for operating in the hours of darkness and when the sun is obscured by clouds. Auxiliary 50hp motors assist with close-quarters manoeuvring. The ship can run for three days on fully-charged batteries, and a hot blue-sky Hong Kong summer’s day will fill them up again in two days. And remember, absolutely everything is running on that one power source – the navigation systems, the lighting, the on-board computers and the fans. There’s no air conditioning (that’s just too energy-hungry), but there is an excellent coffee machine!

It might cost very little to run – after all, sunshine is free, and nobody has succeeded in slapping a tax on it yet – but you can’t build a boat like Tûranor and run a global-sized project for nothing. Project financier Immo Stroeher has been pursuing the possibilities of solar power generation for a long time, but on land, in the 'stationary energy supply sector.' Stroeher believes that his US$18m investment in the Tûranor will 'help drive forward the development of sustainable energy technologies on the water and in other mobile applications. The aim is to offer future-proof solutions for sustainable living in major cities and environmentally responsible mobility concepts.'





Really, it is simply a case of setting a good example, and making the boat an ambassador for environmentally-friendly mobility. Tûranor’s first port of call after crossing the Atlantic last year was Cancun, Mexico, and a guest appearance at the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), 'providing visible proof of efficient and forward-looking use of solar technology to improve the climate of the planet.'

Arriving in Hong Kong and parking at Ocean Terminal has a certain poignancy for Le Rouzic - his last visit to Hong Kong was as Captain of a cruise liner and, yes, they were berthed in just the same place. By now, the silent solar ‘sailer’ has already headed off on the next stage of her journey, via Singapore to the Red Sea and back to the Mediterranean. It wasn’t a noisy departure – it’s not that sort of a project. Erwann and his crew of three enjoyed their Hong Kong visit, but were equally pleased at the prospect of being at sea again. 'I really enjoy stepping down from the main part of the boat on to the hulls. Maybe it is because I was a sailor before everything else – I love being close to the sea, and Tûranor lets you get very close to the sea. There’s no noise, and we are very often visited by dolphins and other sea life. In the Galapagos (where we were allowed into ‘marine reserve’ areas because we have no polluting engines) we had seals climbing out and basking on the hulls of the boat).

Tûranor PlanetSolar, with her silent electric motors, is quiet. Very quiet. Her history-making circumnavigation comes more under the banner of ‘quiet achievement’ than fanfares and hoopla. But it is very probable that this is a project that will be heard, loud and clear, all over our energy-hungry and frighteningly polluted planet.

Yesterday 23 August the Tûranor PlanetSolar departed Hong Kong en route for Vietnam and Singapore, in what was surely perfect weather for a solar-powered boat as well as for the photos! Anyone wishing to follow Tûranor PlanetSolar on the web can do so at: www.planetsolar.org










TÛRANOR PlanetSolar
Designer: Craig Loomes, LOMOcean Design, Auckland, New Zealand
Builder: Knierim Yachtbau GmbH (Kiel), at HDW Howaldtswerke Deutsche Werft (Kiel)
Length: 31m
Beam: 15m (solar panels ‘unfold’ to max beam 23m)
Height: 6.1m
Weight: 95t
Solar array: 537 sq m. 18.8% efficient photovoltaic cells by SunPower Corp (San Jose, California), panels by SOLON AG (Berlin). Solar generator: 93.5 kW
Batteries: Lithium Ion, 338 v, 2910 Ah, 95%+ efficient. GAIA Akkumulatorenwerke GmbH (Nordhausen/Thuringa)
Electric Motors: 4 permanent magnet synchronous motors, total 120hp, 92% energy efficient. Drivetek AG (Ipsach/Biel, Switzerland).
Propellers: AIR Fertigung-Technologie GmbH & Co KG (Rostock, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern)

Protector - 660 x 82Mackay BoatsWildwind 2016 660x82

Related Articles

A Q&A with US Sailing’s Malcolm Page about the Sailing World Cup Miami
I spoke with Malcolm Page, US Sailing’s Olympic chief, about the team’s performance at the 2017 Sailing World Cup Miami I talked with Malcolm Page (AUS), a two-time Olympic gold medalist in the Men’s 470 class and the chief of Olympic sailing at US Sailing, to get his pulse on the team’s performance at the 2017 Sailing World Cup Miami and discuss some recent coaching changes within the Olympic-sailing program.
Posted on 20 Feb
America's Cup - Emirates Team NZ give first look at the pedaling AC50
Emirates Team New Zealand formally christened their new AC50 America's Cup Challenger on a rainy Auckland afternoon. Emirates Team New Zealand formally christened their new AC50 America's Cup Challenger on a rainy Auckland afternoon. The team has been sailing for the previous two days making news headlines after it was revealed in Sail-World.com that the AC50 would become only the second yacht in America's Cup history to use pedal power.
Posted on 16 Feb
America's Cup - Kiwis sign Olympic Cyclist for the Tour de Bermuda
Ttop cyclist Simon van Velthooven, a 2012 Olympic Bronze cycling medallist had been signed by the America's Cup team Emirates Team New Zealand put in a second foiling display on Auckland's Waitemata harbour ahead of the official launching of their AC50 tomorrow. With brighter skies the cycling team took their places on the pedalstals and used leg power to provide the hydraulic pressure necessary to run the AC50's control systems for the foils and wingsail.
Posted on 15 Feb
A Q&A with Shawn Macking about the StPYC’s Sailing Center and OD fleet
I talked with Shawn Macking, the StPYC’s waterfront director, to learn how the club is getting more people out sailing. I caught up with Shawn Macking, waterfront director of the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, via email to learn more about the club’s Sailing Center, its hefty investment in a new fleet of ten J/70s, and how the StPYC is using this infrastructure to expose more people to the sport we all love.
Posted on 13 Feb
A Q&A with Karen Angle about the 2017 Conch Republic Cup race to Cuba
I caught up with Karen Angle, executive director of the Conch Republic Cup, to learn more about this exciting event. If you’re like me and have arrived at saturation with winter’s cold rain and snow, imagine racing to Cuba as part of a 13-day cross-cultural event that’s designed to lower barriers of entry at a time when some Americans see a need for taller walls. I caught up with Karen Angle, executive director of the Conch Republic Cup, to learn more about this exciting event and the adventures it affords.
Posted on 23 Jan
A Q&A with Anna Tunnicliffe about her return to competitive sailing
I talked with Anna Tunnicliffe before the Sailing World Cup Miami to learn about her return to Olympic-class sailing. Anna Tunnicliffe won gold at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in the Laser Radial before shifting her sights to the Women’s Match Racing event for the London 2012 Olympics. Here, she came up shy of expectation and left sailing for the CrossFit Games, but now she is returning to her roots. I talked with Tunnicliffe before the Sailing World Cup Miami to learn about her return to Olympic-class sailing.
Posted on 23 Jan
A Q&A with Dick Neville, Quantum Key West Race Week’s RC chairman
I caught up with Dick Neville, Race Committee chair for the Quantum Key West Race Week, to learn more about the event. For the past 30 years, international sailors have gathered in Key West, Florida, each January for Key West Race Week, a regatta that has achieved legendary status due to its calendar dates, its location, and the impressive level of competition and racecourse management that this storied event offers. I caught up with Dick Neville, Race Committee chair for this year’s Quantum KWRW, to learn more.
Posted on 16 Jan
A Q&A with Daniel Smith, the Clipper Race’s new deputy race director
I talked with Daniel Smith, the Clipper Round The World Race’s new deputy race director, to learn more about his role. I was fortunate to sail with Daniel Smith [36, SCO], skipper of “Derry~Londonderry~Doire” for the 2015/2016 edition of the Clipper Round The World Race, when the fleet reached Seattle last spring. Now, Smith has been hired as the event’s deputy race director-a job that will test many of the skills that he polished as a skipper. I caught up with Smith via email to learn more about his new job.
Posted on 9 Jan
Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - Suck it up, sunshine!
The 72nd start of the iconic blue water classic had 300,000 spectators lining the foreshores of Sydney Harbour The 72nd start of the iconic blue water classic had 300,000 spectators lining the foreshores of Sydney Harbour, another two million watching on TV, and the constant buzz and whir of media helicopters overhead. 88 boats, from Australia, USA, UK, Germany, Sweden, Russia, Japan, Korea, China, oh and New Zealand, had lined up on three start lines.
Posted on 31 Dec 2016
Rolex Sydney Hobart Race - More merriment on the airwaves
Here are more examples of merriment on the airwaves between the boats and Hobart Race Control So on December 29, 2016, after the River Derwent had let just three boats home (Perpetual Loyal, Giacomo and Scallywag, all inside the old race record, she went to sleep for a lot of the day. This made it frustrating for the sailors, some of whom saw the lighter side. So after seeing some of those in Dark & Stormy, here are more examples of merriment on the airwaves between the boats and HRC
Posted on 29 Dec 2016