The Turanor Planet Solar was built in Kiel in northern Germany at the Knierim Yacht Club. Its name derives from J.R.R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, meaning “power of the sun”. When the huge catamaran (31 by 15 meters) docked sans emissions into Cancun Harbor on December 6 as the United Nations continued their climate talks, the boat with its 500 square meters of solar panels made a statement like no other. At 102ft long, 29ft wide and 25ft high, it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible to miss the world’s largest solar-powered sea vessel.
On its maiden voyage circumnavigating the globe and promoting sustainable energy, the Turanor is manned by two crew members and can accommodate many people. Silent and pollution-free, its creator, Knierim Yachtbau, who, along with other investors spent £10 million (almost $US 16 million) on the construction, claims this amazing boat can reach a top speed of about 15 knots (17.3 mph).
The world voyage will commence officially in April 2011 and is expected to take an estimated 140 days based on the average speed of 8 knots. A more equatorial route will be utilized in order to maximize the solar power generated and get the most sun. The route will follow both the Panama Canal and the Suez Canal across the Atlantic from Europe, crossing the Pacific into the Indian Ocean, and into the Mediterranean. Planned stops along the way include: New York, San Francisco, Darwin in Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Abu Dhabi and Marseille in southern France.
In the words of Knierim Yachtbau:
“This is a milestone in the progress of solar mobility. It is my vision to see solar power take its rightful place not only on rooftops, but also on the roads, seas and in the skies of the future… The aim is to offer future-proof solutions for sustainable living in major cities and environmentally responsible mobility concepts. Solar mobility can make a significant contribution to this endeavor.”
There is no sunbathing allowed on deck of this boat, as it would interfere with the efficiency of the solar panels. After the record-breaking trip, it is expected that the boat will be used as a luxury yacht.
For more information about the project, go to the website http://planetsolar.org.
For now, just be amazed, sans emissions.
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