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Pricey Solar Yacht With Geeky Name Circling The World
September 2, 2011
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Big Oil's argument that renewable energy can't address distance travel is getting slightly weaker (for a certain economic class, anyway), thanks to the efforts of the nerdiest catamaran on the planet.

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The 102-foot mega-yacht - completely powered by 8000 solar panels - was built by the Knierim Yacht Club, in Kiel, Germany, who named it "TÛRANOR PlanetSolar". Lord of the Rings fans might recognize that first word's Elvish origins; its meaning falls somewhere between "the power of the sun" and "victory".

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While the boat's silent, pollution-free electrical engine isn't powering the vessel from the Shire to Mordor, it is carrying a six-person crew (it can hold up to 40) on a trip around the world, chugging along at a max speed of 24km/h. The goal of the project is "to demonstrate that high-performance solar mobility can be realised today by making innovative use of existing materials and technology."

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However, the sunny intent of the journey is shaded slightly by the price tag for the solar-powered yacht. At a cool construction cost of €12.5 million (CAN$17.4 million), TÛRANOR PlanetSolar is yet another talking point in the ongoing conversation about the feasibility of renewable energy sources as alternatives to oil. It's a dilemma the team behind the project addresses on their site:

"This only makes sense if the costs are reasonable and competitive. Therefore, we are mainly using materials and technology available today which have the potential to be mass-produced, thus lowering prices and operating costs considerably over time."

Which is important. If sources like solar are only available to the wealthy, energy change on a systemic level will remain a world away.

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Follow the progress of TÛRANOR PlanetSolar on its satellite-updated Google map.

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