|The solar panels are mounted above the decks. Click to enlarge.|
Sun21, a solar-powered catamaran developed and sponsored by the Swiss Transatlantic21 Association, departed the European mainland on 3 December on the first transatlantic crossing in a vessel powered solely by the sun.
The boat uses two 5kW solar modules (about 65 m2) to power twin 520 Ah 48V lead-acid battery packs (one in each hull) and two 8-kilowatt electric motors, allowing a constant speed of 5 to 6 knots. Approximately half of the energy produced during the day will be stored in batteries for powering the motors at night.
Sun21 is following Christopher Columbus’ historic route to the Americas, including the departure from the Spanish port of Chipiona. The next port of call for Sun21 will be the Canary Islands. The solar catamaran is scheduled to arrive at Puerto Calero on Lanzarote by the end of this week.
A stop-over in Tenerife is planned for mid-December before the boat heads for the Cape Verde Islands. After that, the catamaran will be out in the Atlantic for at least three weeks non-stop. Its final destination will be New York City with a scheduled arrival for May of 2007.