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Solar boat

The construction of what could be the biggest solar boat in the world has begun in Germany.

PlanetSolar is a multi-hull vessel topped by a large array of photovoltaic (PV) solar panels and is being constructed at the shipyard Knierim Yachtbau in Kiel, Germany.

The solar-powered boat will make a round-the-world trip in 2010 with stopovers along the equator, where the maximum amount of sunlight is available. The over 40,000 km voyage will last 120 days, assuming an average speed of 10 knots.

PlanetSolar's two-man crew will cross the Atlantic Ocean, the Panama Canal, the Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean and finally the Suez Canal, to return to the Mediterranean. It will stop in cities like Monaco, Paris, Marseille, Dubaï, Abu-Dhabi, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Hamburg, New York and San Francisco.

The aim of the stunt is to promote hybrid vehicle technology. If successful, it will spawn technological developments in fields such as the manufacture of composite materials and structures, and the generation and storage of PV energy.

The French Ministry of Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development and Land Settlement supports the project which, according to Minister Jean-Louis Borloo, is “a terrific demonstration of the potential of renewable energies.”

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