Solar boat to cross Atlantic from St. John’s

Ashley Fitzpatrick
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MS Tûranor Planet Solar will not go to Iceland, Norway

The PlanetSolar ship Tûranor was launched in March 2010 in Kiel, Germany. The ship weighs 89 tonnes and has an average speed of five knots (9.25 km/h). Currently being used as a research vessel and inanimate ambassador for advancing solar technologies, the ship is expected in St. John’s in August.
Designed by Craig Loomes of New Zealand, the PlanetSolar ship was christened Tûranor —“power of the sun” —in J.R.R. Tolkien’s imagined language of Elvish. It is the world’s largest solar-powered vessel and uses 516 square metres of solar panels to power block lithium-ion batteries.  
— Submitted photos courtesy of PlanetSolar

The PlanetSolar DeepWater expedition — a research mission gathering data on the climate-regulating Gulf Stream — has made a change in plan.

The ship is leaving Boston today and will head North, ultimately reaching St. John’s.

The research team has decided the ship will then make a trans-Atlantic crossing, rather than head further North along what had been a planned route to Iceland and Norway.

According to a statement issued today, the change will allow the team to concentrate its scientific work — data collection — on ocean eddies between Boston and St. John's.

“Although the days are still long around Iceland in mid-August, the low angle of the sun relative to the boat's photovoltaic panels would compromise the optimal acquisition of solar radiation,” added the ship’s captain, Gérard d'Aboville, in the written statement.

“These sunlight conditions and the bleak weather forecasts for the rest of the summer prevented us from being able to guarantee a precise arrival date, which poses a number of logistical problems with regard to the scientific team members' rotation”

The team will stop in Halifax on the way to St. John’s.

The ship’s new itinerary is now available on the PlanetSolar site.

“The new navigation plan will enable us to concentrate more on the region of ocean eddies — large vortices that break off from the main part of the Gulf Stream. These phenomena influence heat exchanges with the atmosphere as well as the growth of phytoplankton where the powerful current leaves the east coast of the United States” said professor and lead researcher Martin Beniston.

“This new itinerary is an opportunity for our research. In fact, our route will follow a series of zigzags that enter and exit the Gulf Stream while intercepting several ocean eddies. This is the area where we expect to find the most interesting scientific results.”

As The Telegram reported at the end of June, the ship is expected in St. John’s by early August, though an exact date of arrival is not yet available.

The vessel was designed by Craig Loomes of New Zealand and its name, Tûranor, means "power of the sun" in J.R.R. Tolkien's imagined language of Elvish.

Launched in Germany in 2010, it is about 31 metres long and is powered by 516 square metres of solar panels atop its light, catamaran frame. The panels feed energy into a six-lithium-ion block batteries.

Organizations: The Telegram

Geographic location: Gulf Stream, Boston, Iceland Atlantic St. John's Halifax United States New Zealand Germany

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Recent comments

  • Kevin
    August 01, 2013 - 17:10

    We were walking along the pier this afternoon in St. John's and were very lucky to see this amazing vessel. Good luck to the crew and scientific team!