It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…No, It’s a Boat!

by Dennis Machicao

A most unusual vessel arrived in the New York City harbor the other day that turned the heads of many along the shores of the Hudson River as it sailed up river manned by captain Gerard d’Aboville and gently maneuvered itself into a slip at the Dennis Connor’s Marina at the North Cove in downtown Manhattan.

Looking like a cross between a small aircraft carrier and a Star Wars space ship the MS Turanor PlanetSolar vessel from Switzerland arrived on a beautiful sunny day. As its name implies, the boat is powered by 100% solar power. It’s total upper deck is a flat surface area of 516 m2 covered with solar panels that expand and contract on either side of the boat and with a rear deck that moves up and down to adjust the angle of its solar panels.

The boat is 31m in length and 15m wide with a crew of 4 and a capacity of 60 people that can go on board. It is the biggest solar ship in the world and was launched in March of 2010 in Kiel, Germany. The designer, Craig Loomes of New Zealand, had to research the correct dimensions and design to maximize its energy power generated by the solar panels to be able to move this 89 ton vessel.

In 2012, the MS Turanor PlanetSolar completed its first trip around the world starting and finishing in Monaco, proving that such a trip using solar power exclusively was achievable.  For 2013 the ship is on a DeepWater expedition lead by professor and climatologist Martin Beniston from the University of Geneva. They plan to gather data along the Gulf Stream to study various components of the ocean current and how they regulate the climates of Europe and North America.  The vessel is unique for the study since it will not distort the findings by its own pollutants and gases as a conventionally powered vessel would.

New York is its second stop in its expedition having started in North American from Miami and continuing from New York to Boston, St. John’s, Canada, Reykjavik, Iceland and Bergen, Norway.

Wherever the MS Turanor PlanetSolar goes, it proves along its way the important potential of the future of solar power in moving large vessels and vehicles whether on the sea, on land or in the air without adding to the greenhouse gasses that are slowly destroying the earth’s atmosphere. The future is getting closer.

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