Climate Action

Bali’s first solar-powered boat to be trialled in 2017

The first ever 100 per cent solar-powered boat to circumnavigate Bali, will be trialled in July 2017

  • 17 March 2017
  • Websolutions

The first ever 100 per cent solar-powered boat to circumnavigate Bali, will be trialled in July 2017.

According to the Bali Government Tourism Office, up to 5 million tourists visited the island last year, many of them ferried in polluting petrol-powered boats – locally known as “jukungs” whose leaking fuel have long polluted waters.

The pollution from the jukungs have had a damaging effect on the island’s fragile marine habitats, including coral reefs and mangroves, as well as impacting tourism as many visitors report being disturbed by the smell of fuel and the sputtering noise from the engines.

This is set to change as new venture, Azura Marine Earth, seeks to harness the power of the sun to making sea travel in Bali more sustainable.

In July 2017, the first ever solar-powered jukung – named Surya Namaskar meaning ‘sun salutation’ – will circumnavigate Bali on a 7- to 10-day voyage, completely powered by the sun.

The 8-metre vessel’s solar panels cover an area of 25 square metres which will provide 5 kilowatts of peak solar capacity.

The solar-jukung will also have a battery storage capacity of 5 kilowatt hours and can carry up to eight passengers.

Julien Mélot, the boat’s naval architect, came up with the idea when he was on a diving expedition in Papua where he experienced how petrol-powered boats are polluting the oceans.

Mélot said: “The landscapes are fantastic but you don’t really enjoy the trip. When you go diving to a few locations, the boat rides in between the dive spots are often tiring and uncomfortable due to the loud noise, vibrations and smell of the outdated boat engines.”

In contrast, the Surya Namaskar will be completely silent, smell and vibration-free, and as fast as traditional boats with a top speed of 15 knots.

Mélot hopes to encourage local boatmen to convert to solar-powered jukungs, which will cost between $10,000 and $4,000 depending on the boat’s size.

However, under a microfinancing scheme from Azura Marine Earth, locals will only need to pay around $356 as a down-payment with the remaining sum paid in instalments.

According to Mélot, the boatmen will be able to recover the cost of conversion in three years, in addition to saving around $3.50 a day on fuel, and up to $214 annually on engine maintenance.

The solar panels will not need maintenance for up to 25 years, with the storage battery and motor only needing to be maintained once every decade, Mélot said.

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Source: Eco-Business, the leading media company serving Asia Pacific’s clean technology, smart cities, responsible business and sustainable development community.