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The Biggest Solar Powered Boat In The World

Turanor PlanetSolar
(image credit: El coleccionista de instantes)

Turanor PlanetSolar is the largest ocean going vessel that is completely powered by solar panels. It makes an impressive sight looking similar to a space ship. It has recently arrived in New York in readiness for an environmental trip that will investigate Gulf Stream climate change effects.

Most catamaran travel speedily across the waves but not this one. It has a cruising speed of only 5 knots with power being provided by solar panels that cover 516 square metres of its surface. It is around 100 feet in length, has a span of about 75 feet and weighs 90 tonnes yet only requires a crew of 4 people to operate it. When it is making its slow way across the oceans of the world it is able to extend its wings providing greater capacity to gather energy that is stored in 8.5 tons of lithium-ion batteries.

Back in May 2012, the Turanor PlanetSolar completed its trip around the world having spent 584 days at sea returning to Monaco and was able to lay claim to being the very first vehicle entirely powered by solar power to achieve this record.

For those of you that do not know, the Gulf Stream is a current in the Atlantic that commences at Florida and then crosses the Atlantic Ocean before separating into two. One part of the stream heads for West Africa whilst the other makes for northern Europe. It is responsible for warming the UK by about 5 degrees more than would be expected based upon our latitude.

Potentially, ice caps that melt due to global warming could cause problems with the Gulf Stream that, at worst, could result in a new ice age developing for Western Europe.

The Institute of Environmental Sciences at the University of Geneva in Switzerland are to investigate the complicated interactions that take place between biology, physics and climate with a view to refining climate simulation. One of the benefits of using the Turanor PlanetSolar is that no substances from the vessel have any pollution in them that could otherwise distort the information that is collected by scientists on the vessel’s trip between Miami and Bergen in Norway.

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