Last week, Dutch company Soel Yachts officially launched its SoelCat 12 – a solar electric catamaran. The catamaran, which Soel Yachts has dubbed “The Tesla on Water,” requires no fuel and can save up to 142 tons of CO2 annually compared to a conventional propelled vessel with 200-liter-per-day fuel consumption. The SoelCat 12, which can carry 16 passengers, is designed for salt-water applications and can be beached on sand due to its reinforced hull build from lightweight fiberglass composites. Composites also allowed the company to attain the design flexibility it would need for its hull.
“One cannot just take any existing hull shape, add an electric motor and hope that it achieves a range of 150 [nautical miles],” explained David Czap, the system integrator. “Efficient electric propulsion requires an entirely different approach from nowadays technologies and practices. Therefore, all our vessels are integrally designed from start to finish for and with electric propulsion and the specific duty cycle in mind.”
When the SoelCat 12 is not in use for electric sailing, the catamaran’s 8.6 kWp solar array becomes a mobile power station, which is able to feed back into the grid or provide power where no grid is available.
“This means that solar catamaran is capable of providing energy for up to five households, even at the most remote places,” the company writes. “For the first time communities in the Pacific, nature reserves and water bound resort can turn into self-sufficient eco-destinations, producing their own clean energy on the water and even use it on the land.”
The company says the catamaran was inspired by a lack of working alternatives for saltwater operations.
“Although there seems to be enough awareness for electric alternatives in the automotive industry, the market of electric propelled vessels seems very much in its infancy,” the company said. “The lack of real working alternatives for saltwater operations might have been the main reason why cities like Sydney, so far, have refrained from changing towards solar electric boats and ferries.”