By next year, giant catamaran PlanetSolar will be sailing on sunshine.
This green leviathan is the world's largest solar-powered seacraft. Weighing in at 60 tons, the PlanetSolar measures 102 feet long, about 50 feet wide, and 24 feet tall. For a sense of scale, peek into its front window, pictured above, and try to spot the doll-like man working inside. (You might need to click to enlarge the photo.)
Really, PlanetSolar's jumbo size is simply to accommodate the 5,300 square feet of sun-soaking panels that run along its topside. The solar array pulls in 103 kW, five times more than the boat needs to run at its average speed of 9 m.p.h. That's not exactly jetpack speed, but PlanetSolar aims for the long haul. The boat will lift anchor in Europe around April 2011 and attempt to circle the globe, fueled by nothing but solar rays.
Unlike the almost absurdly decadent Oculus and Infinitas super yachts that we told you about here, the interior of this boat leans toward the Spartan. Only two men will make the worldwide voyage. Thriller-seeker Raphaël Domjan will skipper the ship. And he picked an excellent adventure buddy: Gerard d'Aboville, the first man to row across the entire Atlantic Ocean.
Along the cruise from New York to San Francisco to Abu Dhabi, the world tour will share a message of environmental stewardship. "Today, the boat is the most used means of transport of goods," the team writes. "It represents single-handedly almost 1.4 billions of tons of carbon dioxide (in 2008), that is 6% of the total carbon dioxide emissions and twice more than the air transport."