Swiss solar boat finishes historic world tour

Super-yacht PlanetSolar, brainchild of a Swiss eco-adventurer, has completed the first ever round-the-world trip to be powered entirely by the sun's rays.

The boat returned to the port of Monaco on Friday to much fanfare and a new world record, 586 days and 60,000 kilometres after it set off. The project had been dreamed up by former ambulance driver, Raphael Domjan, from Yverdon-les-Bains, and took nine years to come to fruition.

“PlanetSolar did not invent anything new, but by going around the world, it pushes the boundaries of what can be done even further. People will stop to wonder about the capabilities of solar technology in terms of autonomy,” Guy Wolfensberger, director of Grove Boats SA, told newspaper Tribune de Genève.

The boat is covered in 500 square metres of solar panels, which in turn connect to two electric motors, one in each of the two hulls. The boat, which can travel up to 14 knots an hour, is capable of holding up to 200 people and is the largest solar powered boat in the world.

“We will never see container ships depending 100% on the sun as the surface area of the solar panels would be too great. But with our prototype, we proved that this powerful technology has a commercial future,” Domjan told the newspaper.

Significantly, the boat docked in Cancun in 2010 during the United Nations World Climate Conference

The 31-metre-long boat will be used as a luxury yacht now that its journey is complete.

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