PlanetSolar is ready to circumnavigate the globe under the Swiss flag

Bern, Press release, 25.02.2010

Construction of the Swiss vessel PlanetSolar has now been concluded and today it was presented to the media at a shipyard in the German harbour town of Kiel. In the summer of 2010, the solar-powered catamaran will embark on the European leg of its mission - and beginning in 2011, on a trip around the globe - to draw the world’s attention to the significance of renewable energies. The catamaran, sailing under the Swiss flag, is the result of a project supported by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and the Cantons of Vaud and Neuchâtel.

The catamaran PlanetSolar was presented to the public today in Kiel in the presence of the Berlin-based Swiss Chargé d’Affaires. With its length of 30 meters, width of 15 meters, and some 500m2 of solar panels, the solar-powered vessel is the largest of its kind in the world. The solar energy generated enables the vessel to sail at an average speed of approx. eight knots (15 km/hr.).

The FDFA, represented by Presence Switzerland and the Swiss Maritime Navigation Office, is supporting the project with a total amount of CHF 300,000 spread out over the years 2009 to 2011. The occasion of the annual birthday celebration in honour of the Hamburg Harbour to be held in May 2010, will coincide with the launching of this futuristic catamaran set to sail the high seas under the Swiss flag. Both while in Europe and while on its world tour, the vessel’s crew will be able to count on the logistical assistance of the local Swiss representations, along with the organization of appropriate events to showcase the Swiss project. This year, the travelling exhibition entitled “PlanetSolar Village” thematically dedicated to the sustainable and environmentally friendly use of energy, will be accompanying the arrival of the catamaran in Hamburg and most probably in Amsterdam, Paris, and London as well.

In April 2011, it is expected that the catamaran will weigh anchor from a Mediterranean port and begin its tour around the globe, setting sail for the eastern and western coasts of North America, and then on to Australia, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates.  

The project is thus meant to make a vital contribution to acquainting people with Switzerland’s innovative capacity in the domain of renewable energies. Its aim is to inform the public as to the importance of renewable energies and to raise people’s awareness of their potential.

The project would never have seen the light of day, were it not for cross-border cooperation. The idea of developing a sea vessel powered uniquely by solar energy originated with the adventure-seeker Raphaël Domjan from Neuchâtel; the boat was built in Germany; and the renowned French seaman Gérard d’Aboville will skipper the vessel together with the Swiss project-originator. A sizeable part of the technology applied in PlanetSolar comes from Switzerland, developed for instance by Drivetek AG from Biel, by Pasan SA from Neuchâtel, and in collaboration with the Vaud School of Business and Engineering (HEIG-VD). 

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