Solar electric yacht company Soel Yachts has been selected as one of the 1000 Efficient Solutions endorsed by the Solar Impulse Foundation, passing a rigorous evaluation by a team of worldwide experts in the environment, technology and business management.
The Solar Impulse Foundation was started by Bertrand Piccard, the environmentalist and adventurer who conceived and co-piloted the Solar Impulse plane that flew around the world in 2017 using nothing but energy from the sun. The Foundation was set up to promote environmental protection and climate action and “shed light on existing Solutions that are both clean and profitable and have a positive impact on quality of life“.
Solar electric yacht pioneers
Netherlands-based Soel Yachts has been designing and building solar powered yachts since 2011 and is rightly proud of being a pioneer in commercial zero emission vessels. Its roots go even further back to when Founder and Managing Parter David Czap was part of the Technical University of Delft Solar Boat Team that won the Netherlands first solar boat race in 2006 – with a 10 hour advantage. Shortly after, in 2008, he built the world’s first solar electric speed boat, the Czeers Mk1.
The 10m long carbon fibre boat hits speeds of up to 30 knots with an 80 kW / 400V propulsion motor and system by NavalDC, which is now a sister company of Soel Yachts. Together they worked with the Okeanos Foundation for the Sea to build a 12 metre solar electric boat for the Bora Bora Beach Resort demonstrating the possibilities of sustainable, fossil fuel free sea transportation in the Pacific islands .
The boat – Okeanos Pearl – received the Innovation Award at the 2017 Tourism Awards of French Polynesia and became the foundational design for Soel Yachts’ flagship model, the SoelCat 12 catamaran.
Solar array can also provide power to shore
One of the challenges of a solar electric yacht is integrating and balancing all of the elements for the most efficient design – construction materials, shape of the hulls, size and weight of the solar panels – while also making it enjoyable and easy to run. The combination of Soel and NavalDC is a big advantage in that regard. The SoelCat 12 has two 30 kW motors, a 60 kilowatt hour lithium battery for each, and it is all connected to 8.6 kWp (peak power) of solar panels and modules.
At a cruising speed of 7 knots the SoelCat 12 has a range of 11 hours on battery alone and 16 hours with draw from the solar panel, but the boat’s solar array can also be used when it is not moving. It can feed into an AC grid on shore and become a mobile power station or provide power at remote places where no grid is available.
Fits UN Sustainable Development Goals
All of these features and more were taken into account when the World Alliance Members of the Solar Impulse Foundation evaluated Soel Yachts as an Efficient Solution. There are 3 criteria that are judged: feasibility, environmental impact and profitability. The nominated company or technology must also have a solution that matches one or more of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SGD).
The evaluation is done by three assigned experts, each of whom must have a minimum of five and three years of experience in the appropriate SDG and business sector. In the case of Soel Yachts, the SGD is 11: Sustainable Cities and communities, and the Foundation had this to say in its evaluation of the company:
By combining naval architecture and system integration know-how, Soel Yachts provide a solar electric alternative for coastal water passenger transportation.
Soel Yacht offers the opportunity for water bound destinations to become fully sustainable on land as well as water. With specific hull design and smart, safe lithium energy storage system, the vessels are integrally designed for superior electric propulsion. Entirely fuel independent, they offer performance and endurance without engine noises or exhaust fumes. Soel Yacht’s technology can easily be applied to bigger or smaller vessels, achieving a high scalability for worldwide applications.
Joining the Efficient Solutions club!
Soel Yachts joins some other electric boat projects and companies in the 1000 Efficient Solutions club:
- SeaZen boat club in France
- City Boats Lisbon
- Grove Boats of Switzerland and the
- Navalt company in India (for its Aditya solar ferry)