Solar Sailor

Self Powered Electric Boats


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Self powered electric boats are all over the world. There are over 1,000 solar powered electric boats in service around the world. Solar powered boats have crossed the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, with no fuel. They provide taxi and ferry service, and more.

Solar Cup is a seven-month program that begins in the fall, in which high school teams totaling about 900 students build and race solar-powered boats at Lake Skinner, southern Califonia. Watch this video to see the 2008 competition.

Sailboats have been self powered for centuries, but they usually aren't electric. Many sailboats do produce their own electricity, with solar and wind. Some pull a generator behind them in the water to make electricity, and some also have electric drive, and are fully SPEV. My first self powered boat was in 1992, so simple. I put one 30 watt solar panel, one battery, and one trolling motor on a Catalina 22 sailboat. The way I used the boat, it was perfect. I always had power for the motor, the battery was never dead, it powered the lights too, and I never plugged it in.

If you have a self powered boat you'd like to see included in this list, email David at

2009 Sunrider, new 10 passenger solar boat sold by Navgathi Marine.

2009 Loon, new solar boat sold by Buffalo Solar Boats, Ontario, Canada.

Foton by Humber Boats, new solar boat sold by Humber Boats of Canada.

Island Pilot DSe, hybid 40' yacht that can run on solar power alone.

PlanetSolar, 30 meter solar powered boat set to circumnavigate the globe in 2010. PlanetSolar

Solar Shuttle RA 82, operates in Hamburg harbor, Germany. Capacity 120 people.

Solar Sailor, Australian company that manufactures pleasure craft, ferries, and modifies cargo ships.

Collinda, 22 foot catamaran that crossed the English channel in 1997

Osprey, 32 foot catamaran by Tamarack Lake Electric Boat Company

Malt's Mermaid, world record for fastest solar powered crossing of Pacific in 1996.

Aquabus, solar powered 24 passenger boat, built by MW-Line of Switzerland

Solar Shuttle, solar powered 42 passenger ferry in London, England.

2007 Loon, production solar powered catamaran by Tamarack Lake Electric Boats.

Sun 21, crossed the Atlantic Ocean in 2007

There are many examples of Self Powered Electric Boats, solar is most common, but wave power and other methods have also been used.

In 2007, the solar catamaran Sun21 powered across the Atlantic from Europe to the US, at an average speed of 6 knots, day and night. Solar electric boat builders are in production around the world, and more new solar powered boats and yachts are nearing production.

SPEV's have been in use for years. Progress is being made. We already have SPEV's that can carry a human over 200 miles per day as in the Solar Challenge, or several humans across an ocean as the Sun21, and even fly as the Sunseeker II. As technology and batteries improve, the range and speed will increase, and the payload will increase. We are just beginning.