SOLAR ELECTRIC CATAMARAN SOELCAT 12
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By Cori Marshall
Battery powered electric vehicles have been making impressive inroads in many different areas, except on the ocean. Until now.
Netherlands-based Soel Yachts has designed and developed a completely energy autonomous seafaring vessel. The SoelCat 12 was launched into the waters near Auckland New Zealand this week. Equipped with a full array of solar panels, in remote areas the catamaran can provide land-based dwellings with power.
We spoke with Joep Koster, Co-Founder of Soel Yachts to find out more on the SoelCat and what inspired the unique vessel.
Koster has the educational background to match the ambition. Studying at Delft University of Technology, Norwegian University of Technology, he completed a Masters Degree in Maritime Technology in 2010. Koster said that it was while working as a designer at "Azure Naval Architects [that he] started developing the first concepts for the SoelCat 12."
In 2013 Koster along with David Czarp began "developing the concept into realistic plans, made structural calculations and designed laminate plans." Koster added that it was on a marketing trip to French Polynesia that "we met our client prototype." Construction began in 2016 and in August of that year, Koster travelled to Auckland to oversee the final stages of building.
Koster said that "development costs are difficult to quantify at this stage," they will be available later this year along with retail prices.
What sets the SoelCat apart from other solar electric boats is that it is the only one designed for saltwater. Koster explained that the catamaran "offers decent speed and range compared to conventional boats." The boat has a maximum speed of 14 knots and cruises at 8 knots. The SoelCat can operate for 6 hours at cruising speed and that can be extended to 7.5 when the sun is shining.
Koster added that the SoelCat 12 carries "no fuel, and is silent." It was because the boat was designed to be solar electric from day one that it was necessary "to maximize the solar roof for power generation and minimize hull resistance," Koster said. It was "a huge challenge," he said.
Koster said that it was working with the challenges "that make his job so enjoyable."
The SoelCat 12 comes with ultra thin lightweight solar panels which the Soel Yachts website says "boosts efficiency 22.5%." The catamaranís system is powered by "marine grade lithium polymer batteries."
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