PlanetSolar passes halfway point

By Keith Henderson at May 10, 2011 07:48
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We reported last year, the September 2010 departure from Monaco of the world’s largest solar energy powered ship, the MV TÛRANOR PlanetSolar for her circumnavigation. She has now covered over 52 per cent of the entire route and is due to reach Noumea, New Caledonia tomorrow.

Taking a southerly route across the Atlantic via the Canary Islands and Caribbean island of St Martin she arrived in Miami, Florida on 27th November. The next port of call was Cancún, Mexico to coincide with the United Nations World Climate Change Conference, then to World Heritage Site Carthagena in Colombia for a Christmas break.

On 13th January 2011 she docked in Panama City being first solar boat to have passed through the 80 km long Panama Canal. The next stage of the circumnavigation was the Pacific Ocean segment with first stop the Galapagos Islands. The proposed visit to San Francisco was cancelled due to meteorological reports indicating that the weather conditions were not appropriate with regards to currents and stability of sunshine.

On 5th March she docked at the port of Nuku Hiva on the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia, having covered 3,023 nautical miles (5,599 km) in the course of her Pacific crossing - and 11,411 nautical miles (21,133 km) in total since her departure from Monaco. In the course of her Pacific crossing the M/V TÛRANOR PlanetSolar also achieved a new record for the longest distance ever covered by a solar electric vehicle.

Shortly after leaving the next stop Bora Bora, mechanical problems forced the solar catamaran to return there for repairs. The main steering of the catamaran is by adjusting the pitch of the propellers and a fault developed in this system. After a two week stay temporary repairs were completed and allowed the vessel to continue to her next stop Tonga. From there she is proceeding to via Noumea, New Caledonia due 11 May, thereafter to Brisbane Australia, arriving mid May, where a permanent repair to the steering system together with routine maintenance will be carried out.

The following major stopovers are currently planned however may change due to local weather circumstances:
 -  Australia / Brisbane, (May 2011)
-  China / Hong Kong (July 2011)
-  China / Shanghai (August 2011)
-  Singapore (October 2011)
-  India / Mumbai (November 2011)
-  Emirates / Abu Dhabi (December 2011)
-  Transit Suez (February 2012)
-  Monaco / return (April 2012)

The whole project team and most of all the crew are to be complimented on their courage, determination and outstanding effort. We wish all concerned, favourable currents, calm seas and lots of sunshine!

Flying under the flag of Switzerland, the 85 ton displacement ship has a length of 31 m and beam 1 5m; 537m2 of solar panels feed the largest lithium-ion battery in the world. Two 10kW electric motors, power a controllable pitch carbon fiber propeller. Built by the Knierim Shipyard together with HDW in Kiel, Germany, the electrical management and control system is provided by Imtech, Germany. There is accommodation for around 40 guests although the crew for the circumnavigation numbers only four.

Caption: MV TÛRANOR PlanetSolar off Miami Beach
Image credit: PlanetSolar SA


Caption: The main steering of the catamaran is by adjusting the pitch of the propellers.
A fault developed in this system forcing the catamaran to return to Bora Bora for repairs.

Image credit: Keith Henderson

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