World’s largest solar-powered boat to arrive in Phuket

PHUKET: The Turanor, the first solar-powered boat to attempt a circumnavigation of the globe, is scheduled to moor at Phuket’s Ao Po Marina, on Phuket’s east coast, at about 7:30am tomorrow.

The stunning piece of technology and craftmanship, will remain in Phuket until Wednesday and will be visited by a delegation from the Swiss embassy in Thailand on Tuesday.

The voyage began 389 days ago – on September 27, 2010 – from Monaco and has been mapped with stopovers along the equator, where the boat can exploit the maximum amount of sunlight as it rounds the Earth.

The four-man crew crossed the Atlantic Ocean, navigated the Panama Canal, then sailed the Pacific Ocean and are now heading for the Indian Ocean and the Suez Canal, en route to the Mediterranean to complete 57,000km of ocean traveling.

Dubbed in full the MS Turanor PlanetSolar, the multihull is topped by a large array of photovoltaic solar panels that at full exposure cover an area of 537 square meters.

At 31 meters long, 15m wide, reaching a height of 6.1m. and weighing in at 95 tonnes, it is the biggest solar boat ever built, taking 14 months to complete at the Knierim Yacht Club, in Kiel, Germany.

The PlanetSolar project began in 2004 with the idea of promoting and investigating sustainable energy sources through future technologies.

Raphael Domjan, from Switzerland, is the initiator and expedition leader of PlanetSolar.

“The circumnavigation of the boat is to demonstrate the functionality and efficiency of today’s technology. I think that the project is excellent to get into the heart of cities, to get close to people, to convince politicians and industrialists and let them experience solar energy,” he explained.

“On its round-the-globe expedition, the Turanor PlanetSolar will pioneer the use of sustainable energy technology on water. It is different from anything that has happened in the field of mobility to date.

“This solar catamaran uses the very latest cutting-edge technology available on the market. Our intention is to demonstrate that high-performance solar mobility can be realized today by making innovative use of existing materials and technology,” Mr Domjan said.

Fans of JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings will be interested to learn that the name Turanor is derived from the fiction piece and and translates as “the power of the sun” and “victory”.

— Neil Quail

Phuket News
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