The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.

Solar Powered Ship Arrives in Europe

Solar-powered catamaran PlanetSolar has crossed the Atlantic from Canada to Belgium, a journey of 4598 km.

Leaving St John’s, Canada on 6 August and traveling at an average speed of 4.5 knots, the solar ship arrived in Europe 23 days later. This is PlanetSolar’s second transatlantic crossing this year.

PlanetSolar in St John's, courtesy PlanetSolar

Built in Kiel, Germany, PlanetSolar is the world’s biggest solar ship and is powered exclusively by solar energy. In May 2012 the vessel completed the first solar-powered trip around the world, sailing for 584 days.  

Before its 2013 voyages the ship underwent major maintenance operations, the PlanetSolar team said. “The most significant optimisation was related to the propulsion system—the surface propellers were replaced by a completely immerged system,” said a statement.

The ship undergoing maintenance early this year, courtesy PlanetSolar

Navigation was problematic on the North Atlantic, the crew reported. “The weather conditions were particularly unfavourable during this crossing,” said Gérard d’Aboville, the ship’s captain. “The wind, first during our southern descent, then the current, and finally a much lower than average amount of sunshine in the region for this time of year!”

During the voyage, researchers from the University of Geneva (UNIGE) took physical and biological measurements along the Gulf Stream as part of an ongoing scientific project, the PlanetSolar DeepWater expedition. The last phase of their measurements will begin in the ship’s current location, Oostende.

“The final phase is of particular interest because data will be collected on the outskirts on an urban area. We have already observed some very interesting results around Boston [U.S.],” said Jérôme Kasparian, UNIGE researcher and member of the expedition’s scientific committee.

Launched in Florida, U.S. in early June, the DeepWater expedition covered over 8000 km, collecting a continuous series of physical and biological measurements from air and water. The research team studied aerosols and phytoplankton, which are key parameters of climate regulation, in an attempt to better understand the complex interactions between ocean and atmosphere and their role in climate change.  

The researchers were particularly interested in the phenomenon of ocean vortices—large whirlpools that break away from the main part of the Gulf Stream—which can influence heat exchanges with the atmosphere as well as the behavior of phytoplankton.

While the vessel is moored in Oostende, alongside press events with local authorities, the team said it will test a net which it plans to use during a floating plastic waste collection campaign, a collaboration with the Waste Free Oceans foundation.

The ship will then leave for London [UK], where the UNIGE researchers will conclude their project. “I look forward to discovering what measures will be taken around the British capital,” Kasparian said.

PlanetSolar will be at London's South Dock, West India Dock on Monday, 2 September.

PlanetSolar crossing the Atlantic, courtesy PlanetSolar

Read more solar energy news here.


Renewable Energy Finance

Clean Energy ETFs Are on a Tear

Eric Balchunas, Bloomberg Green investing used to be synonymous with losing money. But while the S&P 500 Index is up 2 percent this year, and the MSCI All-Country World Index is up 5 percent, clean energy ETFs have double-digit re...

Wheels, Towers and Trees: Unconventional Renewable Energy Technologies in the Pipeline

Andrew Williams, International Correspondent A number of companies around the world are developing novel technologies in an effort to grab a slice of the global renewable energy market.  Although many of these technologies are simple incremental improvements to e...
UK Parliament Clean Energy Leaders

UK Government Names Clean Energy Cabinet Members

David Appleyard, Contributing Editor With the UK general election now over and a majority Conservative Party government in place, the re-elected Prime Minister David Cameron has now named key members of the government charged with steering the UK’s clean energ...

Coast to Coast and Across the Electric System, Microgrids Provide Benefits to All

Dick Munson, Environmental Defense Fund At the most obvious level, microgrids could disrupt today’s utilities and their regulated-monopoly business model, because they challenge the centralized paradigm. In a nutshell, microgrids are localized power grids that ha...
Tildy Bayar is a journalist focusing on the energy sector. She is a former Associate Editor on and Renewable Energy World magazine.


Volume 18, Issue 3


To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:


Tweet the Editors! @megcichon @jennrunyon



EU PVSEC 2015 (European PV Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition)

The EU PVSEC is the largest international Conference for Photovoltaic re...

Sponsor/Exhibitor: MIREC Week 2015

Solectria, Pillar, and Variadores together are co-Silver Sponsors! Come ...

More Power, More Profit Tour - San Diego

Register for the SMA More Power, More Profit Tour for free, in-person sa...


EU PVSEC 2014: Call for Papers Receives Great Response

More than 1,500 contributions apply for presentation in AmsterdamScienti...

EU PVSEC 2014 extends its Scope

Added focus on application and policy topicsAbstracts for conference con...

The Question Trilogy

    It’s crucial to learn what your prospect needs from...


Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now