The epic voyage of the Tûranor PlanetSolar – the world’s largest solar-powered boat – will soon come to a close as the ship closes in on its final stretch. The Swiss vessel is a full-bore high-tech solar harvesting machine whose deck is covered in 537 square meters of photovoltaic panels. The array produced enough energy for the boat to navigate the entire circumference of the Earth without any other means of energy. The Tûranor PlanetSolar is currently set to depart Abu Dhabi en route to their final port in Morocco – the same place the expedition launched on September 27th, 2010. The journey has come full circle in more than one respect, as it was not too long ago the only way to navigate the earth was by harnessing renewable energy with sails.
The ship is ported in Abu Dhabi next to the impressive Capital Gate Tower, where treehugger’s Brian Merchant caught up with the crew during the World Future Energy Summit. The ship is a concept craft that proves solar energy is capable of providing enough power to move a ship that can carry up to 50 people. The lightweight carbon body, low drag profile, and pontoon-based hull reduced the energy needs for the journey. The power system (composed of the solar array, a lithium-ion battery bank, and an electric motor) has performed flawlessly, leaving the two backup diesel engines to collect dust.
The journey took the Tûranor PlanetSolar eastwardly along the equator to maximize solar exposure and to take advantage of ocean currents. The end of the trip marks the completion of a solar trifecta — it comes after the first solar plane navigated the earth and the first solar-powered vehicle race around the world.
Images © PlanetSolar