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On a solar boat speed is all about having a large solar panel area in relation to the mass of the hull. Other considerations are frontal area and hull drag.




On the 27th of September 2010 Tūranor PlanetSolar started on a journey around the world from Monaco. With this expedition, the initiators of the project aimed to focus the public awareness on the importance of renewable energies for environmental protection.


The idea was developed by Raphael Domjan and a team, including:


1. The great grandson of Jules Verne; Jean Verne;


2. Jean-Louis Aucouturier, Professor Emeritus at the ENSEIRB Graduate Engineering School - Bordeaux Science and Technology University and President-Founder of the Electric Boats of France (l'Association franēaise pour le bateau électrique - AFBE); 


3. Jean-Luc Van Den Heede, Navigator and Record Holder of the solo non-stop westward circumnavigation by sailboat. Ten Cape Horn passages, four around the world sailing tours; two of these tours in the Vendée Globe Race; and


4. Fernand Cuche, Conseiller d'Etat neuchātelois.







A crew of six set out to circumnavigate the globe using only solar power. Captain of the expedition was Frenchman Patrick Marchesseau. Other participants were Christian Ochsenbein (Bern, Switzerland) and Jens Langwasser (Kiel, Germany); as well as project initiator, president and expedition leader Raphaėl Domjan (Neuchatel, Switzerland).


On 27 November 2010 the solar boat reached Miami. A significant stopover was Cancśn, during the United Nations World Climate Conference.





At the centerline of the world tour, the French Canadian Captain Erwann Le Rouzic took over in New Caledonia mid May 2011, to assist with navigation sharing the master's responsibility with Captain Patrick Marchesseau.

On the first solar boat expedition around the globe, the Tūranor PlanetSolar set two records:


1. fastest crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by solar boat and 

2. longest distance ever covered by a solar electric vehicle.

After 584 days, Tūranor PlanetSolar returned to Monaco on 4 May 2012 having sailing around the globe. Technical problems with the propeller system had forced the vessel to stay in an Asian port for two weeks of repairs using local craftsmen.




According to the famous record book: "The longest journey by boat on solar power only is 32,410 nautical miles (60,023 km; 37,296 miles), by MS TŪRANOR PlanetSolar (Switzerland), which circumnavigated the world in a westward direction leaving Monaco on 27 September 2010, passing through the Panama Canal and returning to Monaco after 1 year 7 months and 7 days of navigation, on 4 May 2012. MS TŪRANOR PlanetSolar crew included founder and expedition leader Raphaėl Domjan (Switzerland), engineers Christian Ochsenbein (Switzerland), bosun Jens Langwasser (Germany), captains Patrick Marchesseau and Erwan Le Rouzic (both France). Raphaėl Domjan, engineer Christian Ochsenbein and bosun Jens Langwasser followed the circumnavigation from start to finish with breaks in between."


"Other crew members joined the voyage on selected legs of the journey only. The boat left Kiel, Germany, where it had been built, on 31 March 2010 with fully loaded batteries, then headed for Hamburg and on to Monaco for the official start of the world tour on 27 September 27 2010 at 14:41 (departure line in front of the Fermont Hotel). It was a sunny day and the batteries were fully loaded. The PlanetSolar project, initiated by PlanetSolar founder and expedition leader Raphaėl Domjan and ship-owner Immo Ströher, aims to be the first vessel to circumnavigate the globe in a "solar" boat, i.e. one driven by a silent, pollution-free electrical engine powered exclusively by solar energy. The name "TŪRANOR" is derived from J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings saga and translates as 'The Power of the Sun'."


"The MS TŪRANOR PlanetSolar, a 31-metre-long and 15-metre-wide catamaran, is powered by a 537 m² (5,780 ft²) photovoltaic solar generator. Batteries are charging during the day and discharging during the night through the propulsion that is composed of 2 semi-submerged propellers driven by 4 engines. Only solar energy is used during the world tour. The MS TŪRANOR PlanetSolar has a diesel backup, but it is sealed. The batteries began to charge as soon as the system was launched on the water in Monaco and can last for approximately 72 hours. The boat is capable of travelling non-stop around the world, but stopovers are made to maintain food supply and undertake public-relations engagements. On the boat showers, lights, fridges etc. are of course powered by solar energy. Only the kitchen operates with gas."


A shame about the kitchen using gas other than hydrogen, but otherwise, a truly amazing achievement.




According to the famous record book: "MS Tūranor PlanetSolar, the world's largest solar-powered boat, today (4 May 2012) completed an incredible round-the-world journey which has earned the catamaran and its crew a total of five world records.

Having begun its voyage in September 2010 with a mission to promote renewable energy, the vessel docked at Hercule Harbor in Monaco this afternoon to end its epic journey and become the first solar-powered boat to circumnavigate the globe.

As well as setting a new record for the longest journey by solar-powered boat, the project has also seen the catamaran claim Guinness World Record titles for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic by solar power and the fastest crossing of the South China Sea by solar power.

Measuring 31-metres in length and featuring 537 square metres of black solar panels mounted around its raised cockpit, the boat sailed more than 60'000 km during its 19-month adventure, travelling over every ocean and continent using only photovoltaic energy.

As well as passing through the Panama and Suez canals, the boat also made stop-offs in 28 countries including Mexico, Australia, Singapore and Abu Dhabi, with the breaks used to promote the use of solar energy at local events.

Swiss electrical engineer Raphael Domjan was inspired to start the project nine years ago after seeing the effects of climate change on an Icelandic glacier.

Speaking to AFP-TV ahead of the final leg of the journey, Domjan explained: "The idea was not to perform a feat but an eco-adventure with the aim of passing on the message that change is possible".

"We have everything at our disposal: the know-how, technology, raw materials and renewable energy to become sustainable and protect the planet".

Designed and constructed over a period of two years, MS Tūranor PlanetSolar cost a total of 15 million euros to build following funding by a number of sponsors and private partners.

Festivities celebrating the boat's arrival are set to continue throughout the night in Monaco, with a light show and a concert by Swiss band Sonalp both being powered in suitable fashion by the energy stored in the craft's batteries."







Length 31 m
Length (with “tail flap”) 35 m
Width 16 m
Width (with “side panels”) 26 m
Unladen weight 89 t
Height (above the waterline) 6.5 m
Total surface area of the solar panels 536.65 m2 (@17.4% efficiency)
Number of modules 825
Number of photovoltaic cell 38'000
Cell efficiency 22.6%
Total weight of the Li-Ion batteries 12 t
Autonomy without sunshine 3 days
Cruising speed 5 knots
Maximum speed 9 knots
Maximum engine power 120 kW
Cruising speed power 20 kW
Peak performance 93.5 kW




Turanor PlanetSolar measures 31 m long (35 m with flaps), with a beam of 15 m (23 m with flaps) and has a displacement of 85 tonnes. The catamaran’s upper surface is covered in 537 m2 of solar panels allowing the vessel to be powered by solar energy alone. On 27 September 2010 the boat left Monaco on the first stage of an attempted circumnavigation.






This is a useful comparison table between the Elizabeth Swann and PlanetSolar based on the published details above. Note the Swann's specification is draft (estimated) and subject to change as the development proceeds, the Planet's spec is actual:



Peak power [ave pv+wind] =  90kW (120 hp) - 93.5kW (125.34 hp) [pv]
24hr averaged power =  28kW (37.5 hp)  - 31kW (41.78 hp) 
Peak power to weight ratio =  3.6kW/ton (4.6hp) - 1.05kW/ton (1.4 hp)
24hr averaged p/w ratio =  1.12kW/ton (1.5 hp) - 0.34kW/ton (0.46 hp)





Very different designs, Catamaran Vs Trimaran frontal area comparison, with the Swiss boat having more to push through the air and through the water. The PlanetSolar also has increased wave drag from the central 'V' hull in rough seas as waves slam the undersides. The Swann seeks to avoid as much wave drag as possible by raising the cabin and deck areas higher. The Swann is a longer boat, with a higher speed/length ratio, making it potentially the largest solar boat ever built as @ 18 January 2021. PlanetSolar has no wind turbine to capture additional solar energy, a missed opportunity, but then that is why R&D hails innovation.





Note the unusual propeller design of this boat - surface piercing blades or paddles that create a lot of splash.





The previous solar Atlantic record set by MS Tūranor PlanetSolar in November 2010 was bested in 2013, using the same route - from Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Spain, on April 25, 2013. She sailed across the Atlantic Ocean, traveling at a speed of 5.3 knots before it reached Marigot, St Martin, in the French West Indies on May 18, 2013.


Despite several consecutive days of cloudiness the boat reached its destination in 22 days, 12 hours and 32 minutes - four days shorter than in 2010.  PlanetSolar previously held this record with a time of 26 days 19 hr 10 min. See certificate below.





Switzerland’s MS Tūranor PlanetSolar, is currently the world’s largest solar boat (Oct 2020).


Having departed Las Palmas, Spain, on April 25, 2013, the solar powered boat sailed 2,867miles (5,310 kilometers) across the Atlantic Ocean again. It is difficult to compare the two crossings because they were conducted at very different times of the year. But it is sure that major improvements over the previous winter - particularly to the propulsion system - had increased the ship’s performance, according to Gérard d’Aboville, Captain of the MS Tūranor PlanetSolar.

The boat’s energy consumption had to be carefully managed in order to maintain an efficient speed and reach St. Martin in less than 26 days. During the transatlantic crossing, the crew encountered phases of substantial cloudiness for several consecutive days and had to adjust the route. The adjustments increased the travelling distance by 7%, but enabled the PlanetSolar crew to avoid winds and unfavorable swells. Hence, route planning was as important for the Swiss boat as for the Elizabeth Swann.




Fastest transatlantic crossing    First solar powered circumnavigation


Guinness Book of World Records, certificates for transatlantic and circumnavigation 2010 and 2012 by a solar powered boat.



    Largest solar powered boat @ 31 meters long and 15 meters wide


Guinness Book of World Records, certificates for the fastest crossing of the South China Sea and the world's largest solar powered boat @ 31 meters long x 15 meters wide and 85 tonnes.












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