Sailing 60,000 kilometers—more than 37,000 miles—is an impressive feat even aboard modern luxury yachts. It's downright astounding to do it without using a single drop of oil.
At 102-feet long and 49-feet wide, the €12.5 million MS Tûranor PlanetSolar is the largest solar-powered ship to sail the seven seas. It just became the first watercraft to circle the planet using nothing but the Sun's energy.
Built by German boat-building firm, Knierim Yachtbau, the MS Tûranor PlanetSolar cost €12.5 million. Its deck is covered in 5,780 square feet of solar panels—38,000 individual photovoltaic cells—producing up to 120kW of electricity. That's fed to six massive Li-Ion battery blocks which, in turn, power four electric engines. These engines drive a pair of six-foot-wide, semi-submerged, counter-rotating carbon propellers—eliminating the need for a rudder and propelling the MS Tûranor at a respectable 14 knots. Granted, it can't keep up with massive cargo ships like the Emma Maersk, but it also doesn't burn 13 ounces of diesel fuel per revolution.
Since each engine only produces an average of 26 HP and the solar cells have a paltry 22.6-percent conversion rate, the MS Tûranor is designed for efficiency. Its 95 ton hull is built from a foam core sandwiched between layers of carbon fiber and resin. This makes for a lightweight but extremely durable hull while extensive hydrodynamic and aerodynamic testing have ensured minimal drag.
A crew of six piloted the Tûranor during its 585-day trans-oceanic voyage. It launched from Monaco on September 27, 2010 and sailed West for 19 months. This past Friday, May 4th, the boat came home. With a world record now under its belt, the Tûranor will be converted into a 40-passenger luxury yacht. Because, you know, Monaco.