An eco tourism product designed and developed by TeamSustain – SUNRIDER (A Boat Operated using Solar Power)

There are number of tourist destinations all over the world including India that offer boat riding in calm waters such as lakes, back waters, bird sanctuaries, etc. Most of these boating programs use conventional boats that operate using diesel engines, which are fuel guzzlers causing air and noise pollution and disturbance to the local habitat endangering the ecological balance of the surrounding areas.

Tourism Industry is already over utilizing the natural resources for their own benefit without much of consideration of preserving them. Considering a great demand of Eco Tourism solutions in Asia especially in India, TeamSustain has designed and developed a solar powered passenger boat that is launched as production series. This is a first of its kind in India till date.

A beta version of this boat by name of Surya was launched in May 2008 which has been successfully operating in Backwater of Kerala for ferrying the passengers.

To improve upon the beta version and launch a more rugged and commercially usable version TeamSustain included team of Naval Architects from Navgathi Marine Design & Constructions Pvt. Ltd. Cochin to design the hull and ensured the safety standards and design efficiency and launched the commercial product in year 2009.

The Solar Photovoltaic Design to generate the required electrical energy for operating the boat, other fittings and interiors were done by TeamSustain. The ownership of the product belongs to TeamSustain.

The first model named SURYA – (25 Passenger seating capacity) has been included in year 2010 in Limca book of Records as Asia’s largest solar Powered passenger boat.

The Boat is fitted with world most efficient electric Outboard engine from Torqeedo GmbH

TABLE 1: TECHNICAL FEATURES OF SUNRIDER – Solar Powered Passenger Boat

Speed Up to 6.5 knots
Time taken to charge batteries fully from zero7.5 hours@STC
Continuous running at 6.5 knots3 hours (batteries full to 20%)
Continuous running at 3-3.5 knots9 hours (batteries full to 20%)
Maintenance of solar panelsWiping with water daily
Life of solar panels25 years (10 yrs warranty)
Life of Batteries5 years (1.6 yrs Warranty)
Warranty on electric Torqeedo motors2 years (10 yrs Life)
Warranty for Solar Charge Controllers5 Years
Optional Power SupplyShore Charging
Onsite Warranty2 yrs

Engineering Challenges

  • Design of the pontoons / vessel boat to achieve the maximum efficiency and safety
  • Design of the boat to be able to carry weight of the panels and passengers
  • Generation of sufficient solar power to operate and also charge battery bank
  • Selection of most suitable high efficiency electric outboards

Exclusive Safety Features

  • Provides Reserved Buoyancy
  • Reduces Pitching motion in rough waters
  • Filled with foam to prevent dangerous intake of water in case of damage
  • Increased water clearance (Freeboard) to improve stability

Water Tight Compartments

  • Each hull is divided into three water-tight compartments
  • Hulls filled with foam to prevent dangerous intake of water in case of damage

Safety Equipments

  • Life Jackets for Adults and Children
  • Life preservers
  • First aid Kits
  • Fire extinguishers

List of accessories provided

  • Depth Sounder -1
  • Side Pontoons Guards – 4
  • Integrated GPS to give accurate speed and range readings
  • Safety equipments
  • LED navigation and cabin lighting

Tangible benefits to the environment
Replacing conventional diesel operated boats with Solar Powered boat will bring in huge tangible and intangible benefits

TABLE 2:  CO2 SAVINGS BY SOLAR BOAT OPERATION

SPECIFICATIONSSOLAR BOATCONVENTIONAL BOAT
CO2 Emission (Tons / Year)*No Emission30.00
EngineOutboard ElectricOutboard Diese
Energy SourceSolar Fuel
Average boat running time / Day (Hours)6.006.00
Total HSD required in an hour (Liters)0.006.00
HSD consumption by one boat in a day (Liters)0.0036.00
Average days of operation in a year (Days)0.00300.00
Total HSD consumption in a year (Liters)0.0010800.00
* 1 Liter of HSD emits 2.7 Kg of CO2

It is evident from data presented in table 1 that replacing a conventional boat with solar boat will save around 30 Tons of CO2 from emitting into the atmosphere. Replicating the product for multiple boats will bring in huge environmental benefits.

Intangible benefits to the environment

  • The solar boat helps reducing the water, air pollution by eliminating the usage of HSD
  • Running solar boats helps to maintain un-spoilt natural habitats, as they produce no emissions, are quiet and travel efficiently, with little water disturbance or wash
  • The boat is an ideal product for “Responsible & Sustainable Tourism” at wild life & Bird sanctuaries; where sound of motor boats are serious threats to the ecology

When compared with conventional boats used for similar purposes we can see that other than environmental benefits this product offers a quick payback as well.

TABLE 3: COST BENEFIT ANALYSIS OF BUYING A SOLAR BOAT

SPECIFICATIONSOLAR BOATCONVENTIONAL BOAT
Simple Payback Period without considering fuel price hike in 3 yearsLess than 2.5 Years
Fuel Consumption (Liter/ Year) - Refer Table 20.0010800.00
Fuel Cost (Rs./ Year)#0.00456600.00
Oil Cost (Rs./Year)0.003000.00
Solar Boat - Product Cost (Rs.)1800000.00800000.00
Total Cost of 1st Year1800000.001256600.00
Total Cost of 2nd Year1800000.001713200.00
Total Cost of 3nd Year1800000.002169800.00
# Cost of HSD is considered Rs. 42.00 per Liter

With the above tables it is very evident that using solar boat can be extremely economical when compared to conventional boat operated using diesel engines.

SUNRIDER solar powered boat is in compliance with US Coast guard standard for inland boats.

Replication potential of Solar Boats in India

Hospitality sector is one of the most energy intensive sectors and is in great need for eco tourism solution to reduce their total emissions and energy consumption. There are almost 30 major lakes in India where boating based tourism programs are offered at present.  Some of these are Ashtamudi Lake, Vembanad Lake in Kerala, Chilka lake in Orissa, Hussain Sagar Lake is situated in Andhra Pradesh etc.

All these lakes are dealing with pollutions related issues and boating is one of the major contributors to these issues. Replacing Solar Power boat is an immediate solution to some of these issues.

Not only in India but it has potential of replication all over the world as anything of similar capacity and featured available outside India in 200% more costly than the price at which it is offered by TeamSustain.

If you are interested to know more about Solar Powered Passenger Boats, feel free to write back to me, with you Name, Location and Phone Number.  I would ask the technical experts to get in touch with you and help you with your requirement.

Page last updated on June 29, 2011 at 7:30 am