FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Power of the sun

Posted in England, London by folkestonejack on August 31, 2013

The largest solar powered ship in the world, the MS Tûranor PlanetSolar, arrived in London today after a tour of duty that has seen her criss-cross the atlantic on an expedition (PlanetSolar DeepWater) to take physical and biological measurements along the Gulf Stream.

MS Tûranor PlanetSolar passes Metropolitan Wharf, Wapping, as she heads upstream

MS Tûranor PlanetSolar passes Metropolitan Wharf, Wapping, as she heads upstream

This remarkable ship was designed by LOMOcean Design of New Zealand and constructed at the Knierim Yachtbau shipyards in Kiel, Germany. After her launch on 31st March 2010 she went on to become the first solar powered vessel to circumnavigate the globe. In 2012 the ship established a record of 26 days for the fastest solar powered crossing of the Atlantic and then sliced four days off this record in 2013.

The catamaran makes an impressive and strange sight, with 516 m2 of solar panels covering all of the deck bar the cockpit. I couldn’t help but think that it looked like it should be the toy of a super-villain rather than the home of scientists from the University of Geneva! Mind you, any super villain coming to London in search of sun would be a little foolhardy…

MS Tûranor PlanetSolar passes through Tower Bridge

MS Tûranor PlanetSolar passes through Tower Bridge

I managed to catch sight of the MS Tûranor PlanetSolar as she headed upstream, passing through Tower Bridge at 7.45am. Half an hour later she was back, heading downstream to West India Docks. I caught up with her for the last time as she negotiated the lock and moored up in South Dock.

I’m not sure that any of my shots really give a good sense of her unusual motive power – you really need to get a bit of height (or an aerial perspective) to do that justice. Nevertheless, it was great to see such an unusual ship making her first visit to the UK and good fun to try photographing her.

Thanks to Steve’s wonderful Ships and Boats in London blog for the heads up on this one.

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