March 1, 2010
Solar cat is test bed for next generation submarine batteries
PlanetSolar has unveiled the world's largest solar boat in a ceremony at the Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft GmbH (HDW) shipyard in Kiel, Germany. The vessel will be launched later this month and will undergo testing, before embarking on a round-the-world tour early next year. The goal is to navigate around the world at an average speed of 8 knots
PlanetSolar is a catamaran vessel topped by a large array of high-efficiency photovoltaic solar cells from SunPower Corp.
In all, it can expose a total of 500 sq.m of photovoltaic surface (solar panels) to the sun -- making it the largest solar powered vessel in the world. it will be powered by approximately 38,000 of SunPower's next generation cells, each cell offering an efficiency of at least 22 percent, the highest efficiency solar cells commercially available.
The boat is financed by the German entrepreneur and solar pioneer Immo Ströher. It was built at Kiel's Knierim Yachtbau GmbH -- and there is perhaps a little more than neighborliness behind the decision to unveil the vessel at HDW, since HDW is playing a key role in the project. It is testing innovative lithium ion battery cells on board the solar catamaran.
In close cooperation with Knierim Yachtbau GmbH and battery manufacturer GAIA Akkumulatorenwerke GmbH HDW will now enter the final development phase for a new generation of energy storage systems that is designed for future use on non-nuclear submarines.
The Chairman of HDW's Executive Board, Mr. Walter Freitag, states: "Lithium ion technology is an enormous step forward for submarine batteries. These cells were developed by GAIA, with the support of HDW and exclusively for us. In comparison to the lead acid batteries commonly used so far on board submarines, they feature much greater capacity and a longer life expectancy. In addition, they are virtually maintenance-free. Due to the very high demands in the submarine construction sector and in order to ensure operational safety on board, HDW has developed a comprehensive safety concept for system integration. The solar catamaran is the prototype for first operation of the lithium ion technology on board a manned vessel."
HDW has an advisory role during integration of the currently largest lithium ion battery in the world on board "PlanetSolar(R)" and is supporting Knierim with technical know-how. This particularly applies to the safety aspects of operating lithium ion technology on board.
HDW is a world leader in non-nuclear submarine propulsion technology being the developer of air-independent propulsion using a fuel cell plant.
PlanetSolar has these dimensions:
Length: 31 m
Width: 15 m
Length with flaps: 35 m
Width with flaps: 23 m
Height: 6 m
Weight: 60 t
Surface of solar modules: 500 m2
Panel output: 22%
Power received by the sun: 103.4 kW (138.7HP)
Average engine consumption: 20 kW (26.8HP)
Average speed: 8 kt (15 km/h)
Maximum speed: 14 kt (25 km/h)
Crew: 2 skippers