U.S. Department of Energy

    World's Largest Solar-Powered Boat to Circumnavigate the Globe

    March 3, 2010

    The world's largest solar boat was unveiled on February 25 at a shipyard in Kiel, Germany. Called "PlanetSolar," the 102-foot catamaran is powered exclusively by high-efficiency solar cells manufactured by SunPower Corporation. The craft will begin its testing in late March, about a year in advance of a planned round-the-world journey in April 2011. Constructed in 13 months, the boat is powered by about 38,000 deck-mounted solar cells, each with a 22% solar conversion efficiency. The cells cover about 5,382 square feet of the boat's surface.

    The boat, designed by a team of international engineers working under the direction of PlanetSolar SA of Switzerland, is expected to be the fastest solar boat to cross the Atlantic Ocean, as well as the first to navigate both the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Planned stopovers on the east-to-west voyage include Hamburg, Germany; London, England; Paris, France; New York, New York, and San Francisco, California, in the United States; Singapore; and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. The solar boat will be available for public display during each of its stops. PlanetSolar follows in the wake of the smaller solar-powered "sun21" catamaran, which averaged 5-6 knots (similar to a sail-powered yacht), on its 7,000-mile trans-Atlantic voyage from the Canary Islands to New York harbor in 2007. See the SunPower press release and the Web sites for PlanetSolar and sun21.