London will be the final port of call for the MS Turanor PlanetSolar, the world’s largest solar boat, following the PlanetSolar DeepWater scientific research expedition along the Gulf Stream.
This is the first time the impressive catamaran has visited the UK. The unique vessel will be docked at Canary Wharf from Saturday 31st August to Monday 2nd September to demonstrate its objectives as a scientific research vessel and the applications of solar technology.
The PlanetSolar is currently an ambassador for science and education, having been a scientific research platform for the University of Geneva (UNIGE) for the past four months and an educational platform for schools at each of the stops along its route, sharing knowledge and raising awareness of climate issues. The 2013 expedition has also further promoted the use of solar technology, PlanetSolar having previously completed a round-the-world tour in 2012 that demonstrated the potential of solar energy and the maturity of the embedded technologies.
The PlanetSolar began its 2013 campaign by repeating its Atlantic crossing in 22 days, beating its previous Guinness World record of 26 days. From June, the boat then became a research platform as part of the PlanetSolar DeepWater scientific expedition. Launched in Florida, the PlanetSolar DeepWater exhibition sought to collect a continuous series of physical and biological measurements along the Gulf Stream, both from the water and the atmosphere, using advanced instruments and the expertise of UNIGE scientists. The boat stopped in Miami, New York, Boston, Halifax and St. John’s (NL).
Led by Professor Martin Beniston, climatologist and director of the Institute of Environmental Sciences at UNIGE, the research team studied the key parameters of climate regulation, namely aerosols and phytoplankton, in order to improve the understanding of complex interactions between the ocean and atmosphere, as well as the role these interactions play in climate change.
“The PlanetSolar DeepWater expedition has allowed intensive testing in real-world conditions of a number of ocean and atmospheric instruments, some of which are prototypes developed at the University of Geneva,” Professor Beniston commented. “Following the DeepWater expedition, there is now a wealth of physical, chemical, and biological data housed at the University of Geneva, and which is beginning to undergo exhaustive scientific scrutiny. Although the data has not been analysed yet, we have noticed some very interesting trends, especially with regards to the production of aerosols by sea sprays.”
The objectives of the current expedition are to exploit the clean, green features of the MS Tûranor PlanetSolar and to further showcase its practical applications and the potential of such a vessel.
The largest solar boat ever built, the MS Tûranor PlanetSolar is up to 35m long and 23m wide, depending on whether the solar panels are closed (when it is docked or experiencing very rough conditions at sea) or open (whilst at sea).
Able to travel at an average speed of 5 knots, the boat sets a clear benchmark for the importance of solar power and proves the practical application of green technology. The boat uses 512m2 of photovoltaic panels to power six blocks of lithium-ion batteries and is light, durable and completely silent. It clearly demonstrates the possibilities of solar power for sea travel, with massive implications for sustainable tourism and transport. With zero fuel requirements and zero carbon emissions, the boat can take to the open seas for months at a time, so long as the sun continues to rise.
“The MS Tûranor PlanetSolar has positive benefits for scientific study and exploration, allowing for pollution-free research to be carried out in the vicinity of the boat,” Professor Beniston added.