While solar power is fast becoming a viable energy source for electricity to homes and businesses, did you know that the solar power boat has actually been in existence for over 100 years? In 1838, a Russian scientist created the world’s first solar power boat and as years went by, boats powered by solar energy continued to be developed. However, the internal combustion engine cast the concept aside because it had more power from diesel fuel than the solar power boat did from harnessing the sun’s energy.
It wasn’t until the early 1980s that the solar power started recapturing attention of the public and even then, it was in the form of competitions and races rather than viable public transportation. While more focus is being spent on creating a solar power boat which will power larger vessels, it is still somewhat of a novelty.
Total Power Versus Partial Power
The everyday user is not focusing on powering their entire boat via the sun, but rather just smaller portions of it as electrical power for appliances such as the oven, refrigerator and lights. For this partial solar power boat concept, many boat stores, marinas and even RV outposts sell solar power kits. These kits incorporate some solar panels to capture the sun’s energy, which could then power the incidentals on board the boat.
There is a small contingent of boaters who are looking to the solar power boat concept to power the entire boat instead of relying on diesel fuel. The proponents of the technology say that using the sun’s rays rather than diesel will protect the environment because there is no pollution associated with it. In addition, using fuel means that the engine during sailing will be loud, causing noise pollution whereas the solar power boat is quiet.
Existing Boats with Solar Power
There are quite a few commercial and personal boats using solar power these days. However, they are not quite viable for long sea voyages. Rather these small passenger ships and personal yachts use solar power for small trips such as traversing rivers, canals and lakes. As of right now, for the open seas, sailing power using a sail and wind typically has more power than a solar power boat. This is the primary reason why the solar power boat is only viable for smaller trips.
Technology is advancing quite rapidly and many experts feel that in as little as 20 years, larger ships will use at least partial solar power to make long trips. Personal pleasure boats and cruisers could soon become viable solar power boat options for river, lake and bay excursions. The price may be a bit more than the fuel-based boats, but the solar power boat could pay for itself within a few years by the easier maintenance and no fuel costs.