The MS Tûranor PlanetSolar, the biggest solar ship in the world, recently completed the first around-the-world solar-powererd journey, finishing in Monaco on 4 May 2012. The 18-month expedition, which promoted the use of renewable energy and solar energy, proves it’s possible to travel around the world using the power of the sun.
Crewed by 4 sailors, the solar ship travelled to the Atlantic Ocean, the Panama Canal, the Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean, and finally the Suez Canal in order to reach the Mediterranean – stopping along the way in Miami, Cancun, Brisbane, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore and Abu Dhabi.
The journey followed a route close to the equator and the crew had to constantly optimise the ship’s route and speed in accordance with the sunshine duration and the weather forecast. The ship is powered by 537 m2 of photovoltaic panel power with an installed capacity of 93.5 kW, has 6 blocks of lithium-ion batteries to store energy and can accommodate 40 passengers.
Interesting facts about the MS Tûranor PlanetSolar’s design
- The energy system of the solar panels is optimized by MPPT (maximum power point tracker) to collect a maximum energy from the solar cells and to get the best performance from the facility which is specially adapted to the marine environment.
- The solar cells are protected by an innovative encapsulation system: a layer of glass placed on the panels (for greater resistance as well as for maximum transparency) and a layer of lighter composite materials below.
- The structure of the boat is mainly composed of carbon resin to reduce weight.
- The MS Tûranor PlanetSolar is led by two engines with carbon fiber propellers. The diameter of these propellers is nearly double than what is usually used for a boat of this size.
- On the boat showers, lights, fridges etc. are powered by solar energy. Only the kitchen operates with gas.
PlanetSolar expedition goes carbon neutral
In partnership with MyClimate, PlanetSolar has been measuring its impact on the environment in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, mainly CO2 with the aim of being able to offset its carbon emissions. PlanetSolar has been keeping a record of all journeys – whether by train, bus, plane or car – and their impact in terms of carbon dioxide. Furthermore, it also aims to measure and compensate for the impact of building the boat.
PlanetSolar’s green operational philosophy
PlanetSolar has chosen to have their website hosted by a company who uses solar energy to power its servers. They have also been using electric bicycles (supplied by Easy Move) for local journeys. Furthermore, PlanetSolar use energy-saving computers whenever possible and their offices operate using their partner’s rooftop solar plant.
All photographs copyright: PlanetSolar