Solar-Powered Boat Breaks World Distance Record

The Turanor PlanetSolar in Hamburg. Creative Commons Image by Dr. Karl-Heinz Hochhaus.

The German-built Tûranor PlanetSolar, the world’s largest solar-powered boat, has now traveled over 9,900 nautical miles since launching last March. That beraks the previous distance record for a solar-powered vehicle, which was held by a Canadian solar-powered car.

The boat set out on September 27 of last year for a journey around the world to raise awareness of renewable energy, and recently reached Miami.

The double-hulled, 100-foot vessel runs on nearly 5,800 square feet of photovoltaic panels, which convert solar energy into electricity to run the two electric motors in each hull. The boat’s average speed in its round-the-world journey is expected to be about 8 knots, but it can reportedly reach 14 knots. When underway, the engines are almost totally silent.

Though a number of boats and ships are diesel-electric hybrids, very few are purely electric. Though the Queen Mary 2 is said by The Electric Boat Association to be the world’s largest electric sea vessel, it is in fact a diesel-electric configuration.

The previous distance record for a purely solar-powered vessel was 9,364 miles through the U.S. and Canada for the Midnight Sun Solar Race Team in 2004.

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