The world’s largest solar-powered vessel is heading up to Paris: there, she will be moored up on the river Seine as an ‘ambassador vessel’ for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21, from November 23rd to December 12th). Her aim is to draw attention to the main conference’s issues that are ocean plastic waste and maritime emissions.
MS Tûranor PlanetSolar
The MS Tûranor PlanetSolar was launched on March 31st, 2010 after 3 years of feasibility studies, construction, tests, and optimizations. PlanetSolar SA, responsible for the design and construction of the innovative vessel, completed the project thanks to strong skills in engineering, project management, risk analysis, fund raising and marketing. The Swiss-based company specializing in renewable energy, smart energy storage and efficient electricity production will remain in charge of the boat’s energy system developments. 512sqm of solar panels and 8.5 tonnes of lithium-ion batteries installed so far guarantee zero emission travels, making the MS Tûranor PlanetSolar the most ecological boat ever built.
A zero-emissions world trip
In 2012 she was the first vehicle to complete a wholly solar-powered trip around the world: after 585 days of navigation entirely powered by photovoltaic energy, the MS Tûranor PlanetSolar got back to Monaco, the starting point of her world circumnavigation adventure.
Since this successful trip, PlanetSolar SA has been making use of the solar ship as both a floating laboratory for scientific expeditions and a communication platform.
The solar ship now belongs to Race for Water, a Swiss-based foundation for the preservation of clean water. The foundation, benefiting from the visibility of the solar ship’s trip around the world, is also using her for scientific demonstrations with the aim to fight plastic ocean pollution and to raise the awareness of opinion leaders, politicians, institutional bodies, and the general public.
Race for Water solar ship
The MS Tûranor PlanetSolar will be officially ‘christened’ by the Race for Water Foundation on November, 23rd and will drop anchor at the Quai Javel-Bas for two weeks. There, the vessel will have an important role in the Climate Conference, not only as an ambassador: she will host onboard six environmental conferences and events during COP21, providing both delegates and the public with more awareness about the effects of plastic pollution in the oceans. A visual indicator placed on the boat will also show some of the current innovative solutions that could be scaled up in the maritime sector, where global carbon emissions could rise 250% by 2050. After Paris, the zero-emitting vessel will act as ‘the voice of the Ocean’ as it is prepared for new expeditions in the service of ocean preservation.
A glance forward
The success of the world trip and of the communication strategy by both Planet Solar and Race for Water is proven by the fact that new partnerships are being formed to help drive innovation in the maritime sector and to lower carbon emissions.
For instance, Statoil announced a new consistent investment in partnership with maritime energy storage company Corvus Energy, whose technology currently powers more than 35 commercial hybrid and electric boats consuming less fuel and emitting substantially less greenhouse gasses.
“The experience acquired in solar navigation will help serve a sector that must reduce its gas emissions and its environmental impact,” said PlanetSolar SA chief executive Pascal Goulpié.