For his first Route du Rhum race skipper Arthur Le Vaillant wanted his new Class40 boat to be built in to minimise its carbon footprint and focus on renewable energy sources.
Here we look at the most well-adapted solar energy sources for a Class40 boat.
What is solar power?
Solar power is considered to be the energy source of the future.
Solar panels enable a proportion of the sun’s energy to be transformed into electricity
This method of electricity production relies on sunshine. The amount of energy produced will be far greater at midday on a sunny day than in the evening of a rainy day.
This is a key criteria for consideration given the different weather conditions Arthur le Vaillant will face during the race.
Which type of panels are right for a Class40 boat?
Arthur le Vaillant’s Class40 will need electricity for lighting and navigation tools. Solar panels are a potential solution to this need for electricity.
Different parameters have to be considered before installation.
- The electricity needs of the boat – this is estimated to be 240Ah/days *
- The space available on the boat to install panels
- The types of solar panels.
In considering all of these factors the space available was deemed to be the most limiting factor.
There are 8 x50W solar panels measuring 100 x 30cm, with a maximum usage time of 10 hours per day these can only produce 70% of the electricity requirements of the boat.
As the diagram below – representing a Class40 seen from above shows, the most suitable part of the boat is the roof and specifically the structure on the main deck behind the mast.
Figure: Class40 (A) in view from above (B) with the 8 solar panels fixed on the roof
So what is the solution for providing 100% of the boats’ energy needs?
To provide all 100% of the boat’s energy needs the solar panel area of the boat has to be increased.
As seen in the diagram the ideal answer would have been to install the panels on the deck at the front of the boat where there is the greatest surface area.
But Solar panels require cabling. These would have criss-crossed the boat to the rechargeable batteries inside the boat’s cabin.
These cables would have got in the way of Arthur le Vaillant creating potential danger and getting in the way as he manoeuvres the boat. This is why this option was thrown-out.
A second solution was proposed placing the solar panels behind the mast. This however would have meant Arthur would have needed to unfold them to make them work. In this sense it was a non-starter as there was no way additional tasks could be added when you’re trying to win a race.
The best solution for a race like the Route du Rhum was therefore to.place the solar panels on the roof and create 70% of the boat’s energy requirements.
* The ampere-hour or ampere-hour (symbol: Ah or A.h) is a unit of electrical charge. This is the amount of electricity passing through a section of a conductor carrying a current of 1 amperes for 1 hour.
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