Philippine-made batteries propel solar-powered vessel

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MANILA, Philippines—The world’s largest and most advanced solar-powered boat, the M/S Tûranor Planet Solar, is proof that energy harnessed from the heat of the sun can power practically everything—from pocket-sized calculators to cruise ships.

M/S Tûranor Planet Solar has finally arrived in Manila, not only showcasing the potential of environmentally responsible mobility concepts, but also largely demonstrating the immense potential of solar energy, among other renewable energy sources, as a sustainable resource that can power the future.

“The sun has always been our planet’s most important source of power—wind, rainfall and waves—are all indirectly generated by the sun. Harnessing even a tiny portion of its immense power can provide us with limitless amounts of clean energy,” said World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Philippines) chair Vincent Pérez  in a statement.

“The message of M/S Tûranor Planet Solar is clear: clean and dependable renewable energy technology is here,” added Pérez, who served as Philippine energy secretary from 2001 to 2005 and has since been active in promoting renewable energy.

The German-built vessel measures 31 by 15 meters and tips the scales at 85 tons. Over 537 square meters of photovoltaic solar panels provide up to 127 horsepower – enough to keep the craft moving at a constant speed of 14 kilometers per hour.

The ship is exclusively powered by 38,000 high-efficiency solar cells all produced in the Philippines at the manufacturing facilities of SunPower Corp. Already, it has won two accolades – the fastest crossing of the Atlantic by a solar-powered vessel and the longest distance covered by a solar-powered electric vehicle, according to WWF.

The catamaran now targets to be the first solar-powered boat to circumnavigate the world. Traveling over 55,000 kilometers westward across the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, the M/S Tûranor set sail from Monaco in southern France on September 27, 2010 and has just arrived in Manila from Australia.

WWF claimed that the Philippine stop was recognition of the country’s strong support for renewable energy.

Over the next 20 years, the Philippine government, through the Department of Energy, targets to increase the use of renewable energy by threefold as clean energy is now being seen as a another way to secure the country’s energy supply.

Specifically, the Philippines will target to increase renewable energy-based power capacity to over 15,200 megawatts in installed capacity. This target will allow the country to have a power mix in which RE resources will account for over 50 percent. As of end 2010, total RE generation stood at 26.3 percent.

These goals set under the National Renewable Energy Program can be achieved given that the country has abundant renewable energy sources, with various estimates ranging from 200,000 MW to as high as 276,000 MW in potential capacity. These resources included biomass, geothermal, solar, hydro, ocean and wind.

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  • Anonymous

    People are being mislead by what they call benefits of solar energy. They tend to forget the gravity of its negative output. When we harness the sun’s energy where do we store the energy? Battery. How do we manufacture batteries?  We use chemicals and elements such as; cadmium, lithium, mercury, copper, potassium. In order to extract these toxic elements we already destroy the environment and put people’s lives at risk. We may argue that batteries are just small and it might have no effect if not minimal compared to other energy source. But imagine 10 billion people using batteries for solar energy storage. Batteries are no better than fossil fuels. They both destroy the environment starting from manufacturing to its disposal. We might want to think again of which is really the answer to our growing hunger for energy.

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