The prototype solar-powered, seagoing yacht, MS Tûranor PlanetSolar, finished its "2013 campaign," which began on April 8 in La Ciotat (France) and came to an end on Sept. 10 in Paris.

Click Image to Enlarge

Turanor yacht

The MR Turanor PlanetSolar yacht. Source: PlanetSolar

The prototype solar-powered, seagoing yacht, MS Tûranor PlanetSolar, finished its "2013 campaign," which began on April 8 in La Ciotat (France) and came to an end on Sept. 10 in Paris. Over the course of the 156 days that it raised the general public's awareness about climate issues, the world's largest solar vessel was a platform for what its owners called "an unprecedented campaign of scientific measurements along the Gulf Stream" in collaboration with the University of Geneva (UNIGE).  The Parisian stopover brought this 2013 mission to a close. A series of events were organized in the ship's vicinity from Sept. 10 through 15, at Port de Javel-Bas, quai André Citroën.

The 2013 campaign was notable for the setting of a new record for a transatlantic crossing, 22 days (4 days less than 2010), and by the public's sensitization to climate issues during each of the 12 stopovers, such as in Miami, New York, Boston (United States), Halifax (Canada), and London (United Kingdom). The ship travelled over 20,000 km/12,430 miles — including more than 8,000 km/4,970 miles that were dedicated to the scientific mission — in the wake of the Gulf Stream.

Despite occasionally difficult sailing conditions due to weather vagaries, the catamaran has successfully achieved its builder's objective — to demonstrate that the yacht is not simply a mobile ambassador for photovoltaic energy. “This 2013 campaign was a fascinating challenge for me! Indeed, we had to follow the zig-zag itinerary specified by the scientists, respect the stopover schedule, and simultaneously take into account the specificities of a solar ship! We are extremely happy to have reached Paris today, thereby demonstrating that the MS Tûranor PlanetSolar can go above and beyond a trip around the world, and has a very promising solar future ahead of her!” said Gérard d'Aboville, captain of the ship.

The “PlanetSolar DeepWater” scientific expedition, which was launched in Florida in early June and came to a close in London in August, inaugurated the new life of the solar catamaran. In collaboration with UNIGE, an interdisciplinary team of researchers used the boat's unique features to carry out a campaign of unprecedented measurements along the Gulf Stream, the main regulator of European and North American climates. The collected data is currently being analyzed at UNIGE, and the researchers are already drawing a positive initial assessment.

“PlanetSolar DeepWater made it possible to test several scientific instruments — some of which were prototypes developed at UNIGE — in real conditions. Extensive physical, chemical, and biological data is now in the hands of the institution and will be the subject of a thorough analysis. Although the study of this information is not yet under way, interesting trends are becoming apparent, particularly in relation to sea spray aerosol production,” says Martin Beniston, climatologist and director of the Institute of Environmental Sciences at UNIGE.

The success of this measurement campaign has opened the door to many projects for which the solar ship will be solicited: scientific campaigns with UNIGE, educational programs that support renewable energy, and a campaign to clean up floating plastic waste.

The MS Tûranor PlanetSolar was docked at the quai André-Citroën from September 10-15 near the André-Citroën Park in Paris (15th arrondissement). Events hailing the end of the 2013 campaign (e.g., the “SolarSoundSystem” (musical entertainment powered by the sun) were complemeneted by evenings devoted to philanthropic outreach, and onboard visits from schoolchildren. An exhibition dedicated to the “DeepWater” scientific expedition — with its crew and researchers in attendance — were open to the public on Thursday, Sept. 12 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the greenhouse of André-Citroën Park.

The “PlanetSolar DeepWater” expedition's ambition was to collect a continuous series of physical and biological measurements, both in the water and in the air, using advanced instruments and the expertise of the UNIGE scientists. Led by Professor Martin Beniston, the research team studied the key parameters of climate regulation, namely aerosols and phytoplankton, in order to better understand the complex interactions between the ocean and the atmosphere, as well as the role these interactions play in climate change.

The researchers were particularly interested in the phenomenon of ocean vortexes — large whirlpools that break away from the main part of the Gulf Stream — that influence heat exchanges with the atmosphere as well as the growth of phytoplankton.

The MS Tûranor PlanetSolar, built in Kiel, Germany, is a catamaran powered exclusively by solar energy. On May 4, 2012, after sailing for 584 days, the MS Tûranor PlanetSolar completed the first solar-powered trip around the world.

For her 2013 expeditions, the ship underwent major maintenance operations. The most significant optimization was related to the propulsion system — the surface propellers were replaced by a completely immersed system. In addition, the MS Tûranor PlanetSolar crew comprises Gérard d'Aboville (Captain), Brieuc Delbot (Second), Antoine Simon (electrical engineer), Hugo Buratti (seaman and steward), and Vincent Brunet (steward). During the “PlanetSolar DeepWater” expedition, the UNIGE scientific team rounded out the crew.

In order to fund the 2013 campaign, PlanetSolar SA is supported by the University of Geneva, Ciel électricité, Switcher, the Swiss AOC-IGP Association, Younicos, Plantbacter, Actides, GoPro, Jean- René Germanier SA, BCCC Attorneys-at-Law, Tempur, Hempel, Présence Suisse, Energissima, UIM, YELLO, and Waste Free Oceans.

For more information, contact PlanetSolar SA, Tel.: +41 79 547 42 14; E-mail: press@planetsolar.org.