The most abundant source of energy in the solar system is a star gravitating on its own in the middle of the Solar System. Made up of a phenomenal core that fuses almost 600 million tonnes of hydrogen into helium, converting 4 million tonnes of matter into energy, the Sun has a huge influence on our planet. Astronomers, solar physicists and scientists have always gazed into its depth with unease, trying to figure out how this huge ball made up of scorching heat provides life to billions on the surface of the Earth. Being the most abundant source of energy on Earth, 1,73,000 terawatts strike the Earth continuously, and it has been proved that the amount of sunlight that strikes the surface of the Earth in an hour and a half is enough to produce the entire world’s energy consumption for a year.
Today, Solar energy is an increasingly economical option for house owners and those in the business sector. The sun is pushing out a limitless supply of solar energy for the next 5 billion years. Regions all around the world are stepping up their game when it comes to using solar energy. The sun is being used as a viable source of electricity making it an apt response to the world’s search for a different fuel which is not fossil. A huge example of this is the largest installation of solar panels, a solar farm located in the Jodhpur district of Rajasthan at the Bhadla Solar Park in India that spreads over a total area of 5,700 hectares.
While the sun’s rays move through the atmosphere, bring us warmth, and generate life on the surface of the earth, another constant harbinger of movement and life is the Oceans. And like every natural resource on today’s earth, the Ocean has also begun to need its fair share of protection. Traditional diesel and petrol boats that run on water pose a huge problem to the waterways, as they are constantly burning huge amounts of fossil fuels, causing water and noise pollution. The biggest problem when it comes to fossil fuels is the fact that their consumption is far more than their production. The solution to this is an environment-friendly vessel that does not cause any water, sound or air pollution. And solar boats are the right option as they draw energy from the sun, and use batteries and electric motors which are in turn charged by the solar panel helping to significantly wipe out the use of fossil fuels. They are environment friendly, cost-efficient, eliminate sound pollution and are easy to maintain.
Solar boats can be distinguished into three types based on their usage: Vessels for transporting people, Vessels for transporting vehicles, and special-purpose boats. Vessels for transporting people are ferries that offer water transport catering to the comfortable travel of passengers in an eco-friendly vessel. Vessels for transporting vehicles are designed to carry all kinds of vehicles across waterways and special purpose boats are customized boats that cater to special needs applicable across all sectors.
The operating cost for solar-powered vessels has proven to be negligible in comparison to the cost for boats that are powered by traditional fossil fuels. An apt example of this is India’s first solar electric ferry built and launched for the Kerala Government’s State Water Transportation Department in the year 2017. Five main technical challenges were faced while building the right solar electric boat which would cut down on operating costs and be eco-friendly. The weight of the boat was required to be reduced, which was solved by using Fibre Reinforced Plastic instead of steel or wood. The drag caused in boats due to the inefficient hull was required to be foreseen and reduced prior to its functioning. The cost of power was required to be highly reduced, made possible by using solar panels and electric grid charging. Marine-grade batteries were required to be used in order to reduce damages or risk of accidents that could happen on the boat and finally a large vessel was to be designed in order to accommodate solar panels and a big number of passengers.
The solar boat industry was valued at $0.65 Billion in 2021 and is projected to reach $2.4 Billion by 2031, growing at a CAGR of 14.2% from 2022 to 2031. With such an expansive market growing in such a short period of time, having a yacht that runs on solar energy is not science fiction today, and this is exactly why boats powered by the sun are the future that will lead us to cleaner and quieter oceans.