PlanetSolar, a 31 meter long catamaran, was unveiled yesterday in Kiel, Germany, and its deck  just so happens to be completely covered with photovoltaic panels, making it the world’s largest boat. While not quite ready to launch yet, the PV-bedazzled boat will debut at Hamburg port’s 821st anniversary celebrations in May, and then undergo testing during the summer before starting on a world-wide voyage to promote solar energy. The makers of the boat say, “PlanetSolar wants to show that we can change, that solutions exist and that it isn’t too late. Future generations are looking to us; our choices will mark the future of humanity.”

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Built at the Knierim Yacht Club in Kiel in northern Germany, the PlanetSolar is a 31 by 15 meter catamaran that can expand to 35 by 23 meters when the flaps at the stern and the sides are extended. The deck is completely covered in 500 sq. meters of solar panels with the cockpit sticking out from the top, meaning that there won’t be any bathing beauties lounging on top when they sail into port, but they will be rolling in sans emissions. Manned by two crew members, the catamaran can accommodate up to 50 people on their world voyage. The makers are expecting the boat to get a top speed of 15 knots and an average of 8 knots.

The 40,000 km world voyage will start April 2011 and take an estimated 140 days based on the average speed of 8 knots. To maximize the solar power generated, the crew will stick to a more equatorial route in order to get the most sun. They plan on crossing the Atlantic from Europe through the Panama Canal, crossing the Pacific to the Indian Ocean, and then through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean Ocean. Along the way they will stop in New York, San Francisco, Darwin in Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Abu Dhabi and Marseille in southern France. Now that the boat is built, they trip should be cheap since they don’t have to pay for fuel along the way.

Via Gizmodo and The Age