New solar leisure boats from Gussies Awards winner

NavAlt Solar and Electric Boats has introduced two new lines of solar leisure boats that bring the technology of Aditya – their Gustave Trouvé Award winning commuter ferry – to the world of personal craft.

All of the boats in the new Sun Cruize and Ethnic line can be 100% solar powered and use the company’s proven battery and energy management system NavAlt CIPS (Compact Intelligent Power Supply). Made of GRP (glass reinforced resin), they range from 20 to 50 feet long (6 to 15 metres) and comfortably accommodate anywhere from 6 to 30 people on a river or inland water cruise.

There are different power requirements for different models but to give you an idea of propulsion, the 7 metre Sun Cruize has a 15 kW LiFePo4 (lithium-iron) battery bank and 6kW electric outboard, with solar roof top panels rated at 2 kW. As with the Aditya ferry, the NavAlt CIPS enables the solar leisure boats to be charged from the panels or an onshore source and the CIPS capacity can be increased  to as much as 100 kWh.

Environmental and  financial benefits

The groundbreaking Aditya solar ferry from NavAlt was launched in January 2017 so commuters from the communities of Vaikom and Thavanakkadavu could catch a 2.5 km boat ride across the Kollam Kottapuram Waterway instead of driving 40km via land crossing.

As of this writing (March 7, 2021) the Aditya has prevented almost 1 million kilograms (926,327 /  2,042,200 lbs) of CO2 from being sent into our atmosphere. Other key data:

  • 88,865.37 km sailed
  • 3,283,426 passengers
  • 240,144.51 Litres of diesel saved (63,439 US gals)
  • 926,327 kg CO2 averted (2,042,200 lbs)

And as an economic benefit, using the free rays of the sun means the costs to fuel the ferry has provided a savings of 7,510,500 Rupees (US$102,629  /  €86,126) compared to what it would have taken to operate on petrochemical sludge pumped from the ground. You can see a live update of these statistics and see how spectacularly successful the ferry is on this satellite monitoring site.

Gustave Trouvé Award winner

Aditya, India’s first solar ferry, is recognized as one of the Solar Impulse Foundation’s Efficient Solutions and won for excellence in ‘Electric Boats Designed for Paying Passengers’ in last’s year’s inaugural Gustave Trouvé Awards (‘The Gussies’) for Electric Boats and Boating. The victory was recognized in a presentation in the state parliament and celebrated in media outlets throughout India.    

At the time, NavAlt Founder and CEO Sandith Thandasherry told The Times of India, India’s largest newspaper “We believe this recognition will give us opportunities for new partnerships which is vital in the de-carbonization of water transport.” True to his word and prediction, the new solar leisure boats make the technology available to consumers and small businesses.

Solar leisure boats the next evolution

There are 6 models in the new lines: four boats of 6, 7, 9 and 12 metres (20′, 23′, 30′ and 39′) in the Sun Cruize range and two in the Ethnic lineup at 30 and 50 feet – 9 and 15 metres. All are catamarans with the exception of the 6m model in the Sun Cruize line.

The Sun Cruize line features wide decks with the captain’s cockpit at the bow and different seating options available. The 6 and 7 metre models – for 4 to 12 passengers – are a great solar powered emission-free option for a family wanting a cruising pontoon type boat while the larger versions – with capacities of 15 to 30 – seem well suited to small commercial water taxi or tourist ferry type operations.

One of the first customers for the Sun Cruize is the KAAV Safari Lodge, a luxury boutique resort near Nagarhole Tiger Reserve on the banks of the Kabini river. Sanjay Cherian, Managing Director for KAAV Resorts, said “We continually educate our audience on the dire need to mitigate the effects of climate change by initiatives such as getting our guests to plant trees and thereby reduce our carbon footprint. The introduction of this solar boat is another step towards our goal of becoming a carbon neutral Wilderness Resort in keeping with our commitment of caring for the ecosystem that we showcase.”

The models in the Ethnic line have two decks, giving lots of freedom and flexibility for interior design. River cruises are increasingly popular in India, and these boats cater to the family or tourist business looking for luxury along with the serenity and odour free experience offered by electric and solar powered boats. The 50′ vessel features two VIP cabins (each with en-suite bathroom), galley and one-crew cabin.

For Navalt, these solar leisure boats are not just the launch of new models, but also the start of a much broader realization of the future for zero emission propulsion. On the ferry side they are now working on a high speed vessel and in December they announced a project with the Shell Foundation to build solar fishing boats for small and medium sized fisheries.

‘We will launch 100 more”

“A few years ago, we had carried out a few pilot projects in Gujarat for fishermen with 30-foot-long boats by trying to convert their petrol engines into solar.” said CEO Thandasherry. “While we tried retrofitting them, we learnt it wasn’t effective. This, however, helped us understand their functional needs.”

Five boats with the new design are being built and will be given to a fishing cluster near Kochi as a demonstration of how solar power can reducing fuel and maintenance costs. The boats will also eliminate unburnt fuel and oils leaking into sea. It’s a win-win-win: cleaner water,  better catch, less expense. “Once the fishermen are convinced with the working of the first five boats,” said Thandasherry “we will launch 100 more.”

You can see the full lineup of solar electric boats on the NavAlt website.

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