Solar Power – Eco friendly sail!
While most boats on the water today are powered by diesel engines, and sail power and gasoline engines are also popular, it is perfectly feasible to power boats by electricity too..
Electric boats were very popular from the 1880s until the 1920s, when the internal combustion engine took dominance. Since the energy crises of the 1970s, interest in this quiet and potentially renewable marine energy source has been increasing steadily again, especially as solar cells became available, for the first time making possible motorboats with an infinite range like sailboats. The first practical solar boat was probably constructed in 1975 in England.
The idea of using solar and wind energy to propel ships can cut a ship’s fuel costs by up to 90 percent and significantly lower its environmental impact. The new technology, which is already used can be applied to everything from cruise ships to 500,000-tonne water transport tankers and small unmanned military vessels.
Solar panels can be built into the boat in reasonable areas in the deck, cabin roof or as awnings. Modern solar panels, or photovoltaic arrays, can be flexible enough to fit to slightly curved surfaces and can be ordered in unusual shapes and sizes. It is still true that the heavier, rigid mono-crystalline types are more efficient in terms of energy output per square meter. The efficiency of solar panels rapidly decreases when they are not pointed directly at the sun, so some way of tilting the arrays while under way is very advantageous.
Solar powered. A boat propelled by direct solar energy, almost always converted to electricity by solar cells, temporarily stored in accumulator batteries, and used to drive a propeller through an electric motor. Power levels are usually on the order of a few hundred watts to a few kilowatts. Solar powered boats started to become known around 1985 and in 1995 the first commercial solar passenger boats appeared. Solar powered boats have been used successfully at sea. The first crossing of the Atlantic Ocean was achieved in the winter of 2006/2007 by the solar catamaran sun21.
On friday, 30 March 2007 Sun 21 made Atlantic history.
The 14m- (46ft) long vessel, built by a Swiss firm and registered in Basel, can maintain a constant speed of 10kmh. During the day, the 48 solar panels on its roof gather energy from the sun. The power is stored in batteries, which allow it to sail through the night.The motorized catamaran has two polyester hulls and measures 46 feet (14 meters) by 21 feet (6.5 meters). Solar panels cover its 700-square-foot (65-square-meter) roof.
Using solar power only, the catamaran “sun21” undertook the first motorized crossing of the Atlantic with solar power to promote the great potential of this technology for ocean navigation. The “sun21” arrived in New York City on 8 May 2007, 3 pm, having covered about 7000 sea miles. Sun21 moved about 7 miles an hour (11 kilometers an hour).
The future possibilities seem limitless. From luxury private yachts to tanker ships, the prospects of saving fuel, reducing pollution levels and increasing passenger comfort means that the Solar Sail concept could go a long way on tomorrow’s blue highways.