2012-11-21 16:18:00

The first tour around the world with solar energy

The world’s first «green» voyage around the globe, which lasted one and a half years, ended in May 2012: a unique solar-powered yacht «PlanetSolar» triumphantly arrived at the port of Monaco, from where it had set off in September 2010. Six members of the international crew from Germany, France and Switzerland navigated a considerable route, having set several world records. They navigated more than 60,000 miles solely with the aid of solar power. Even nature itself seems to have decided to support the navigators: at the end of the journey a clear weather near the coast of Corsica allowed to get a record amount of energy — 661 kW / h per day. During 19 months of the eco-voyage the yacht crossed the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans, has passed through the Panama and Suez canals, has stayed in the U.S., Mexico, Australia, Singapore, UAE and many other countries in the world. The team tried to follow a ‘close to the Equator’ route so that to receive maximum amount of solar energy.



«Planet Solar» — a miracle of engineering



«PlanetSolar» is a true miracle of modern technology, which absorbed the most advanced technologies, materials and ideas. 38,000 solar cells supplied by Sun Power with an efficiency of 22% cover an area of 540 sq.m. The deck consists of 160 solar panels and is expected to capture 103.4 kW of solar energy. In case of unfavourable weather conditions to get solar refueling, the capacity of the battery is enough to navigate with cruising speed of 15 km / h for three days without a stopover.

The length of the solar vessel — 31 meters, width — 15 m, height — 6, total weight of the yacht — 60 tons. It’s hull is capable of comfortably hosting up to 50 passengers. The unique yacht was built at a cost of 18 million euro at the Knierim Yacht Club in Kiel, Germany. The design of «PlanetSolar» was developed under the direction of Lumsi Craig, the yacht designer who became famous for modeling boat hulls that «pierce the wave."


It is hard to believe the initiator of the project, who is at the same time one of the «PlanetSolar» crew, used to be an ambulance driver and a mountaineering instructor — the Swiss Raphaël Domjan. He managed to involve enough sponsors to build a fantastic vessel and the enthusiasts have made this world tour.



«My goal is to focus the public awareness that the possibilities for the application of solar energy are not yet fully exploited and that the potential of solar energy is huge! — said Raphael Domjan. — The Earth deserves our wise management of its resources and effective use of enormous natural energy power».



They will make a film based on the trip diary

In an interview with the press German entrepreneur Immo Ströher, the owner of the yacht, said: ‘’We want to give an impetus to the development of energy technologies for marine and other mobile devices. Our goal is to create practical solutions for future sustainable urban development and environmentally friendly vehicles. Solar powered vehicles are to become a significant contribution to the issue.’’



Actually, the trip was a real propaganda of implementation of the alternative power supply. In all ports where the yacht stopped to replenish supplies of food and water, the crew members conducted activities to promote «green» ideas, in particular — the use of solar energy. It should be noted that in addition to finding a solution to the main task — to prove the possibility of autonomous use of solar energy only, this cruise has showed many trading companies how to optimize the existing fleet: some of them have reduced the speed of merchant ships, the other began to install more efficient engines, many companies have equipped the old vessels with solar panels to power the onboard electronics. The positive benefits of unprecedented voyage of «PlanetSolar’’ are just about to begin.



After returning home Raphael Domjan plans to have a short rest and then write a book and make a documentary film. Raphael Domjan’s intention is to finish the film before the 2nd anniversary of the start of the solar boat — until September 27, 2012.

The idea of «green» yacht became a part of famous environmental policy of the Principality of Monaco. After the signature of the Kyoto Protocol in 1998 and its ratification in 2006, Monaco is making great efforts in protecting the environment. That is why the initiative of the PlanetSolar’s world tour was supported by Monaco’s Tourism and Congress Board, the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, SBM company and Yacht Club Monaco. There were many businessmen, politicians and cultural figures present at the solemn welcome ceremony in the port. There were also Ukrainians among them, in particular — Chief of the Risk Reduction Foundation Mr. Volodymyr Kosterin, the main «Green of Ukraine».



by Eugene Petrenko