Autonomous solar boat attempting to cross Atlantic Ocean

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The Solar Voyager is an autonomous boat attempting to be the first to cross any ocean using solely solar power.

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PV Magazine

The Solar Voyager, built by two friends in their spare time, is an autonomous boat that is attempting to be the very first to cross any ocean using solely solar power, as it travels slowly across the Atlantic Ocean.

Solar_Voyager_Atlantic
The Solar Voyager still has a long way to go if it is to complete its journey and arrive in Portugal.

This ground-breaking project may not be making as big a splash as the Solar Impulse, an aircraft flying round the world using solar power, but then again it hasn’t received the millions in funding that the Solar Impulse has. Instead, developed by two friends over the course of three years, using their own time and money, the Solar Voyager is yet another display of the effectiveness of solar power and how it can be harnessed for a great range of practical uses.

The boat was designed and built by Isaac Penny and Christopher Sam Soon, from the U.S. and Mauritius, respectively. The aim of the project was to build an autonomous boat, with no crew members, which can sail the world’s oceans, while promoting solar energy at the same time.

The vessel is four meters in length and one meter in width, and it weighs in a hefty 250kg as it was made out of aluminum, to make sure it is sturdy and durable. The kayak-shaped boat has two solar panels on it, with a combined capacity of 240W, which can generate 7 kWh per day during the summer, and 3 kWh per day during winter.

It set off on its voyage from the port of Gloucester Massachusetts on June 1, with an estimated journey time of four months, before it touches down in Portugal, over 3,000 km away. The Solar Voyager team conducted some sea trials in North Carolina in spring 2015, and is hopeful the boat will be able to conclude its mission. The boat has live satellite coverage, so you can track its up-to-date progress via its website.

Source: PV Magazine. Reproduced with permission.

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4 Comments
  1. Chris Baker 3 years ago

    Well, actually the PlanetSolar project in 2010 launched Turanor, a large solar vessel that cirumnavigated the world by 2012. One of the aims of the project was to draw attention to solar power, but perhaps these folks didn’t notice this journey.
    Interestingly PlanetSolar claim to have set a record for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic ocean by a solar boat, which implies that they weren’t the first.
    I happen to have a solar boat, Stillness, hence my interest in this topic, and it usually lives on the Noosa River, but just now is home for new varnish. Since its launch four years ago it has never been plugged into the grid and can run all day on its 15kwhr battery pack. Very modest compared to Turanor’s 8.5 tonnes of lithium batteries.

    • Mike Dill 3 years ago

      Not the first solar, but the first – autonomous – solar electric boat crossing.

      • Chris Baker 3 years ago

        Aha. Thanks for the headsup. I didn’t clock that.

  2. Mike Dill 3 years ago

    I was planning to buy a 30 ft (10m) sailboat and replace the diesel motor with an electric motor. The old diesel motor was about 20 HP, and the electric replacement was 5.5kW. Using the electric motor for about an hour a day, I expected to need 1kW of solar PV. An alternate design had PV and a wind turbine, which fit better on the existing hull.

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