Tûranor PlanetSolar is the largest solar powered ship in the world: a 31-metre (100′) catamaran with a beam of 15 metres (50′), covered by 29, 124 solar panels covering 537 square metres and rated at 93 kW. In each of the hulls there is an electric motor accompanied by lithium-ion batteries weighing 8.5 tons. Marino-geeks can find all of the specs on the Ship Technology website.
The name Tûranor is derived from The Lord of The Rings and means ‘power of the sun‘.
The boat was built in 2010 and funded by an anonymous German entrepreneur and set sail on On 27 September 2010 from Monaco to circumnavigate the globe solely with the aid of solar power. It is the only boat to accomplish that feat so far.
At the time, it was the only solar powered vehicle of any kind to cross the Pacific, but it has now been joined by the solar airplane Solar Impulse 2
Over 160 days the Tûranor sailed from Monaco, crossed the Atlantic Ocean, the Panama Canal, the Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean and the Suez Canal to join the Mediterranean. In total it covered more than 50,000 km with an average speed of 8 knots.
Now in public service
The Tûranor is operated by Planet Solar SA PlanetSolar, a public limited liability-Swiss company founded in 2008. The company is dedicated to demonstrating that mankind has the resources, expertise, and technologies required to completely eliminate the use of fossil fuels.
From the PlanetSolar website: The solar ship now belongs to the Race for Water Foundation, who uses it for scientific missions and demonstrations with the objective of fighting against plastic ocean pollution. PlanetSolar remains in charge of the solar ship’s energy management and is fully devoted to its client and partners.
Race for Water, another major actor in terms of protecting the planet’s future, has taken over the reins, benefiting from the visibility of this trip around the world. It has demonstrated its ability to raise the awareness of opinion leaders, politicians, institutional bodies, and the general public in the 4 corners of the world
The future of solar powered boats
The boat was built with the idea that it would be a luxury yacht. It can carry 160 passengers and requires only a crew of 4 to operate (other than services staff!) The boat’s Captain,Gerard D’Aboville said in 2010: “Personally I don’t believe solar energy is appropriate for big ships and commercial traffic. It would be a dream, but it’s crazy. You would not get enough power.”
Fast forward to 2018 where Norway has a whole industry and various fleets of solar powered ferries. Or check out this wind and solar combination ship designed for use by ocean going cargo ships.