Solar Catamaran to Boost Eco-Tourism

solar catamaran

Electricity and water don’t generally mix, but a new solar electric catamaran is bringing the two together in a new way.

Soel Yachs and Naval DC are releasing a new product called the SoelCat12, which they’re calling an “autonomous solar electric catamaran.” It’s designed for short-distance travel, making it perfect for coastal and lagoon waters, and inter-island transportation.

The SoelCat 12 is equipped with an electric motor powered by a canopy-top solar array, and its designers are hoping that the SoelCat 12 will be popular among the hotel and tourism industries, as it’s the perfect size to be used as a water taxi, or for short beach tours.

Autonomy from fossil fuels

It isn’t completely autonomous: the boat will still need a captain to steer it and work the controls. The autonomy the designers are referring to is the autonomy from conventional fossil fuel sources. The solar panels on the boat’s shade canopy are enough to power the craft at a speed of 6 knots under a sunny sky. There are rechargeable lithium batteries on board for backup power as well, so the occupants are in no danger of being stranded by a sudden turn in the weather. The storage capacity of the SoelCat 12’s batteries is 120 kWh, allowing it to operate for 6 hours at a speed of 8 knots using battery power alone.

solar catamaran

Naval DC has almost a decade of experience in the design and operation of solar-powered boats, and boats powered by their systems have logged over 350 thousand nautical miles in the Pacific. The SoelCat 12 benefits from years of testing and improvements and boasts one of the lightest propulsion systems yet, at only 8kg per kWh. The system’s vital signs can be remotely monitored worldwide, for additional safety.

The ship itself was designed to be easy to assemble and take apart, which means it can be shipped easily and cost-effectively to customers worldwide, even in more remote locations. Once assembled, it is just under forty feet (11.8 meters) in length and can accommodate 24 passengers and 2 crew in a fully-customizable deck space.

solar catamaran

The on-board solar panels can still produce electricity when the catamaran is docked and not in use, which means that the SoelCat 12 can be a small solar generator for any resort or tour company that owns one.

A boost to eco-tourism

An electric-powered tour boat like the SoelCat 12 might prove to be of exceptional interest to tour companies and resorts. The eco-tourism market is growing, and resorts are responding by pursuing green initiatives, like wastewater recycling and electric ground transportation, that will attract eco-conscious guests. It’s in their economic interest to go green, too, as reduced water and energy consumption can bring down their operating costs.

Bringing green initiatives to water transportation, however, is still a neglected opportunity. So says Joep Koster, a designer and naval architect with Soel Yachts.

“The SoelCat 12 offers a 100% sustainable alternative to conventionally powered boats used in the industry, so far. Taking your guests on a lagoon tour without the noise and smell of combustion engines opens up unique PR values for the industry.”

Image credits: Soel Yachts

  • by Jen MacCormack
  • |
  • February 4, 2016