Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Solar-Powered Boat Arrives In The Big Apple

The sun21 slipped into New York City’s North Cove Marina emitting no discernable sound except the hollers and cheers from an enthusiastic crew who had sailed her across the pond in a 52-day, 3,500-NM trip. As reported here in an earlier post, the Sun21 is the first motorized vessel to cross the Atlantic under solar power exclusively. The photo below shows her eight 2'x5' photovoltaic panels on her roof that power her twin 8-kW Lemco lightweight, low-voltage D.C. motors. A 3,600-pound bank of batteries stores the power, so on days when there is less sun (or hardly any at all), the boat can still go along at approximately 3 knots.

It turns out that this project, spearheaded by Swiss shipbuilder Mark Wüst (who along with David Senn, Michel Thonney, Beat von Scarpatetti, and Martin Vosseler made the transatlantic voyage) is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to clean energy emerging from Switzerland. The Swiss meet 57 percent of their energy needs via hydropower, with wind, solar, and organic waste recycling delivering results in cities across the country.

With fuel prices predicted to approach $4.00/gallon at your local on-road gas station, how much do you think gasoline and diesel will be at your fuel dock this season? Is solar power feasible in private vessels? Tell us what you think here.

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