Why a Solar Powered Yacht?

How to harness solar energy?

Capturing significant amounts of solar energy requires a large area of photovoltaic cells positioned effectively towards the sun. Modern motor and sailing boat designs often don’t allow for enough solar panels in an unobstructed area, free from shade and angled correctly.

Here’s a physics fact that may come as a surprise: partly shaded panels produce almost no power, while fully shaded ones produce at least some.

A large, unobstructed horizontal surface is ideal, but unfortunately not feasible on most modern sailing or motor boats.

The sun is more reliable than the wind. Sailors prefer fair weather and sunny destinations over windy ones. Sails can only be used for propulsion when the wind is just right, and they can’t power household appliances. With a sail, you cannot cook spaghetti, grill a steak or cool down your beer!

Wind generators are also inefficient while sailing due to turbulence and are rarely effective at anchor since sailors seek protected bays with no or little wind.

Consider a simple calculation:

  • A wind generator that produces a maximum of 400W costs about €2,000 and generates approximately 2,000Wh per day in a windy area.
  • A solar panel of the same capacity costs about €500 and also generates around 2,000Wh per day on a sunny day.

To generate about 200 watts, a wind generator requires 20 knots of wind, which is rare and unpleasant at anchor. A solar panel costs a quarter of the price of a wind generator, is quieter, and requires no maintenance. Plus, more solar panels can be fitted on a boat than wind generators.

Solar panels offer a higher average energy harvest than wind generators of the same size and are safer, more cost-effective, and more reliable.

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