PlanetSolar Unveils World's Largest Solar Boat
KIEL, Germany, February 27, 2010 (ENS) - The world's largest solar boat, PlanetSolar, was unveiled at the HDW Shipyard in Kiel on Thursday. The multi-hull vessel, powered solely by an array of photovoltaic solar panels, was constructed by the Knierim Yacht Club in Kiel.

The Planetsolar vessel is the result of an international project, also named PlanetSolar, whose team includes physicists, engineers, boat builders and environmental protection specialists.

The PlanetSolar catamaran is shown for the first time. February 25, 2010. (Photo courtesy PlanetSolar)

In late March, PlanetSolar plans to launch its catamaran for testing, and in April 2011 plans to embark on the first round-the-world sea voyage powered by solar energy. The vessel will travel from East to West, along an equatorial route.

"We are excited that the solar-powered boat is now a reality," said Raphael Domjan, CEO of PlanetSolar SA. "As we embark on the next phase of this project, we look forward to our around-the-world trip, and are confident that SunPower's proven technology will get us there."

The 30 meter (98 foot) long and 16 meter (52 foot) wide revolutionary catamaran, is topped with more than 500 square meters (5,381 square feet) of high-efficiency solar cells manufactured by California-based SunPower Corp.

"We are proud to support the unveiling of the world's largest solar boat, powered by SunPower's high-efficiency solar cells," said SunPower Senior Director Jorn Jurgens. "SunPower's technology will enable the catamaran to circumnavigate the globe with the speed and performance expected from the planet's most powerful solar boat."

SunPower's high-efficiency solar cells lead the industry with up to 50 percent more power than conventional technology, and two to four times the efficiency of thin film technologies, says Jurgens.

PlanetSolar plans to sail this solar boat around the world. (Photo courtesy PlanetSolar)

Designed by a team of international engineers, the PlanetSolar vessel will be powered by 38,000 of SunPower's next generation cells, each cell offering an efficiency of at least 22 percent, the highest efficiency solar cells commercially available.

The same SunPower solar cells integrated into the skin of the solar boat are the number one choice for rooftop solar systems on homes and light commercial installations in the United States, Jurgens says.

Domjan will be the boat's skipper alongside the famous French sailor Gerard d'Aboville.

Domjan says the first solar-powered circumnavigation of the globe will set many new records and worldwide firsts - the first solar powered round-the-world journey by any means of transport, the first circumnavigation by a solar-powered boat and the first solar powered crossing of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. He expects to set a new Atlantic crossing record for a solar boat.

Stopovers include Hamburg, London and Paris in Europe, New York and San Francisco in the U.S., and Singapore and Abu Dhabi. The solar boat will be available for public display during each of its stops, offering an educational opportunity to all visitors. The catamaran can accommodate up to 50 people during the promotional trips planned at each port of call.

Domjan says PlanetSolar is committed to sustainable development and is particularly motivated by the necessity to develop alternatives to fossil fuels, which are in limited supply and causing measurable negative environmental impact.

He says PlanetSolar's ambition is to be "a symbolic step towards a better world."

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