SunPower Solar Cells Power Largest Solar Boat in World

July 28, 2016

PlanetSolar is the world's largest boat to use solar energy.

Editors Note: In 2020, SunPower announced the completion of the strategic spin-off of its manufacturing division into a separate business named Maxeon Solar Technologies, Ltd. As a result, SunPower has expanded its offerings to drive future growth. The SunPower Equinox® system now offers multiple panel options, including front- and back-contact panels, all of which are responsibly and rigorously quality tested to provide the best energy solution for your home.

Update: On April 9, 2017, the ship departed from France bound for Bermuda on a five-year around-the-world journey to raise awareness about clean energy and preserving our oceans.

This post is part of a series highlighting how SunPower’s record-setting solar technology has helped power some amazing adventures over the years, inspiring our latest campaign: Demand Better Solar®.

In our 30-year history, SunPower has set world records for making the most efficient* and most durable* solar on the market, so we’re often asked to collaborate on ground-breaking projects with visionaries who share our dream of clean, renewable solar energy for all.

From powering solar race cars that journey 1,800 miles across the Australian Outback to providing solar cells for Solar Impulse 2, the solar airplane that just recently set a world record for being the first such plane to complete a round-the-world journey, we’ve worked with many inspiring solar pioneers.

A particularly memorable one was PlanetSolar, maker of the largest solar boat ever constructed, the MS Turanor PlanetSolar catamaran. In 2010 and 2013, the catamaran set world records for fastest trans-Atlantic solar crossings powered only by SunPower photovoltaic energy. And in 2012 the boat became the first to use solar energy to circle the globe, sailing around the world in 584 days.

Taking record-setting solar energy to the high seas

The leading performance and durability of SunPower® solar technology made us the perfect partner to power the records set by PlanetSolar in its epic ocean voyages.

Approximately 29,000 of our high-efficiency solar cells were deployed on the boat to capture the sun’s energy and then store it in six battery blocks, each containing 12 lightweight, state-of-the-art lithium ion solar storage batteries.

The body of the double-hulled catamaran is made of incredibly light but sturdy carbon-sandwich construction, as are its massive propellers, driven by four electric motors. All of this was designed and built by a Swiss-led international team of engineers, designers, project managers and crew members.

SunPower Maxeon® solar cells are ranked No. 1 in the industry for durability* so they’re able to withstand the harsh weather conditions of even the most unforgiving conditions. The solar system performed incredibly well on the high seas: Turanor PlanetSolar made the fastest trans-Atlantic crossing by a solar powered boat ever, doing it in 26 days in 2010, and then it beat its own world record in 2013, making a 2,867-mile trip in 22 days.

Revolutionizing solar powered transportation and fighting ocean pollution

The Swiss team behind the Turanor PlanetSolar wanted to show that solar is a viable option for the movement of people and goods around the globe.

“We already have the technology, the knowledge and the means to change to sustainable energy sources,” said Raphaël Domjan, the project’s founder, in a 2010 press release. “We want to prove through our project that, apart from static power generation, solar energy can also provide solar mobility. In this way, sustainable energy technology will be able to make a decisive contribution to climate protection in the transport sector.”

Today the Turanor PlanetSolar belongs to the Race for Water Foundation, which renamed it Race for Water. The boat is used for discovery expeditions and to educate the public. The futuristic-looking vessel continues to serve the scientific community as a floating laboratory and a communication platform to promote clean solar energy and the fight against plastic ocean pollution.

Supporting projects such as PlanetSolar is in our company’s DNA. Innovative projects such as the Turanor PlanetSolar, Solar Impulse 2 and others demonstrate that solar is a cornerstone in the future of renewable energy.

We’re incredibly proud whenever pioneers, adventurers and innovators choose our technology to power their dreams, because it’s our dream, too, to see the abundance of the sun powering a cleaner, brighter future for generations to come.

Interested in purchasing the same solar that powered these amazing solar projects? Try out our solar calculator to find out how much you could save going solar with SunPower.