The government of French Polynesia looks upon the launch of the solar-electric catamaran SoelCat 12 approvingly and has waived all taxes. The solar-powered boat is a cooperative effort and has launched into the seas of Bora Bora.
The electric boat has been designed by Soel Yachts with the support of the Okeanos Foundation for the Sea and the Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort. The first SoelCat 12 is called ‘Okeanos Pearl’ and has taken to the South Seas, where it will charge energy from the sun and ship tourist around with zero emissions. Up to 24 passengers can find a space.
The electric catamaran first came to our attention last year, when Dutch Soel Yachts and Naval DC presented their ship, that can generate all energy for its propulsion system through its own solar roof. The 120 kW battery alone lasts for six hours of shipping at 8 knots and the company says that it runs at 60 NM. In other words, the SoelCat 12 requires 2.17kWh of battery capacity per nautical mile.
Add to this solar power generated on a bright day and the vessel’s cruising speed of 8 knots is prolonged to 8 hours. Lowering the speed to 6.5 knots then results in a 24-hour range, according to SoelYachts. The integrated boost mode allows higher speeds of up to 14 knots, about 25 kph.
The electric propulsion system was built by Naval DC and the SoelCat 12 features their Naval UI system, a read-out and monitoring solution that allows guests to follow the data while on board on their smartphones and tablets. On the technical side, the Naval UI enables the firm to remotely log-into the system and provide service support from all around the world.
The SoelCat 12 is intended as a show piece and out to make tourism more sustainable. The Okeanos Foundation funded and supported the development of this project. The organisation is committed to empower island nations by providing sustainable sea transportation and implementing a network of fossil fuel-free vessels in the Pacific.
“Tourism’s dependence on fossil fuel is problematic, especially in remote areas. Shipping fuel to those remote places is very costly and vulnerably to supply chain disruptions. So in the interest of the boat operator, the solar option is much more resilient,” according to Susanne Becken, Director and Professor of Sustainable Tourism at the Griffith Institute for Tourism.
The solar electric catamaran can be disassembled and shipped to destinations around the world, where a local crew can reassemble it.
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