A solar and wind-powered sailboat is gliding along the United State’s East Coast on a mission to bring awareness to the renewable energy revolution. Washington, D.C.-based Vittoria Energy Expedition is collecting stories of communities helped by clean power, and aims to sail all the way to Cuba. Inhabitat spoke with co-founder Nathan Sermonis to learn more.
The team removed the diesel engine in the 31-foot Vittoria Energy Expedition sailboat, and put in an electric motor instead. Five residential-style solar panels ranging from 230 to 260 watts provide some power to augment the sails, and the team is also adding a small wind turbine with a diameter of around two and a half to three feet. The yacht is also equipped with an array of batteries totaling 25 kilowatt-hours and an inverter.
“None of us had any sort of background in designing these sorts of systems. From researching the Internet and talking to friends and folks that worked in the industry we cobbled this thing together and it works great,” Sermonis told Inhabitat. “It really demonstrates that even people who work a desk job and write emails all day can put these systems together and become a renewable energy user.”
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Many members of the team have a background in energy policy and heard stories of renewable energy’s impact on both rich and poor, conservative and liberal communities. They wanted to share those tales with the broader public, and settled on a cleanly powered yacht as the perfect vehicle for both demonstration and storytelling.
“For us renewable energy has always been about freedom,” Sermonis told Inhabitat. “It made sense for us to connect this idea of renewable energy and independence with the world’s oldest romantic symbol of freedom, the sailboat.”
Vittoria has already journeyed over 900 nautical miles, but they’re just getting started. They’ve hunted down stories in the nation’s capital, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, where the boat is docked as the crew makes preparations to continue the voyage this month. They’ve served as what they call a cruising classroom to share what they’ve learned.
“The ideas of being self-sufficient and choosing where I get my energy are appealing to me. I think these are very American ideals,” Sermonis told Inhabitat. “Ultimately I hope people get excited about seeing all the renewable energy hidden in their backyards.”
The team aims to produce a web series about their adventures and a global map pinpointing renewable energy stories worldwide. You can follow the journey here.
Images courtesy of Vittoria Energy Expedition