Election, Delays and launch of India’s First Solar Ferry – Story Behind India’s Solar Ferry

As per the contract with the Kerala Government, payments were to be made in parts as per completion of various stages in the construction process. This was done to mitigate the risk on both sides. By September 2015 NavAlt completed the construction of both the Hulls and the Battery Box which housed the Battery and Battery Management System was also ready. This was one of the stages when the government was to release part payment, but election played spoilsport.

 Headstart Annual Concalve Startup Award for NavAlt
Headstart Annual Concalve Startup Award for NavAlt

This time was utilized by NavAlt to improve its visibility internationally as well as find partners that can provide it with better on board technology that the one planned. During this time, Victron Energy and Reichhold joined hands with NavAlt as technology partners. Also, NavAlt won or was one of the finalist in many competitions such as Hello Tomorrow Challenge (Paris), ETNow Lufthansa Runway to Success Season 4, APJ Abdul Kalam Startup Award, Villgro Unconvention 2016 and Headstart Startup award 2016. During this time Ministry of Renewable Energy and Ministry of Power of Government of India heard about NavAlt’s project and showed keen interest. MnRE went to the extent of providing 50% subsidy to buyers of solar boats and ferries manufactured by NavAlt.

NavAlt on ETNow Runway To Success season 4
NavAlt on ETNow Runway To Success

With a September launch date, there was too much to be done and too little time to complete. The deck was completed by July and superstructure construction was to begin.The batteries imported from France, although approved by the MnRE, the certificate required for the waiver was taking too long to be issued. This caused another delay and the Onam launch had to be shifted to November.

By September end, finally the certificate was finally issued and the work resumed. Within the next month, the superstructure was created, solar panels fitted on the roof, battery and propulsion system fitted and deck was fitted. On 9th November, the boat was taken to the water.

Full weight trials Under way
Full weight trials under way

Currently, the ferry is undergoing stringent test to check for durability and safety. It is expected to be inaugurated in the few weeks by the Chief Minister of Kerala. Once launched, it will reduce India’s carbon footprint by 114T/year and save the KSWTD ₹29 lakhs annually