Washington, Apr 12: A team of scientists, engineers, and yachtsmen are making what they say will be the largest solar boat ever built, with a view to making a trip around the world.
Planet Solar is being built at the Knierim Yacht Club in Kiel, Germany. The 13-million-dollar revolutionary vessel will be 98 feet long and 50 feet wide. That climbs to 114 feet and 82 feet when the solar panels are fully unfurled.
It will feature 5,059 square feet of photovoltaic cells. Rivendell Holding AG, a Swiss firm that invests in renewable energy, is funding the project.
The objective behind this project is to prove that the shipping industry can reduce its dependence on fossil fuel.
The team plans to circumnavigate the globe at the equator in 120 days at an average speed of 10 knots.
Should they succeed, Planet Solar will set a maritime milestone because no one has circumnavigated the globe in a solar electric boat thus far.
"Solar boats are a viable form of transportation for the future. Our society is too dependent on fossil fuels, which are in limited supply and which are causing measurable negative effects on the earth's atmosphere.
It's now time to demonstrate the potential that renewable energies have to offer in the area of mobility," Wired.com quoted Delia Collardi, a spokeswoman for the project, as saying.
Work on the solar cat's hulls is almost complete, but the project still has a long way to go.
A press kit says the boat will weigh 60 tons and feature 470 square meters - 5,059 square feet - of photovoltaic cells that offer 22 percent efficiency.
Collardi says that the vessel will have enough power to carry skipper Raphael Domjan, the 37-year-old founder of Planet Solar, and navigator Gerard d'Aboville, both of whom are accomplished sailors and adventurers.
The route is still being worked out, but Planet Solar will set sail from Marseilles, France, sometime next year and cross the Atlantic, then cut through the Panama Canal to cross the Pacific.
From there she'll head south through the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean before crossing the Indian Ocean and Red Sea. Then it's through the Suez Canal and across the Mediterranean Sea and back home.
Stops in New York, Shanghai, Singapore, Abu Dhabi and Monaco are among those being considered.
Collardi has revealed that supporters and well-wishers will be welcomed aboard, and that 50 people can fit inside the catamaran for short jaunts.
Immo Stroher, founder and president of Rivendell Holding, has dibs on Solar Planet at the end of the journey.