The electric boat that is powered by the ocean

Solar boat challenge - Netherlands

Two of the most significant renewable energy sources are water and the sun – two sources that are in abundance when you go boating. Despite that, most water vessels still use fossil fuels for their engines.

Sure, some sailboats harness the wind, but these are more for recreation rather than long-haul journeys across the ocean. There have also been advancements in renewable technology, including super yachts replacing diesel engines with solar panels.

Improvements in solar technology and batteries mean greener ships and yachts are hitting the water each year. But one of the most significant innovations is in the Philippines, where a three-hulled ship is being designed to harness wave power.

Solar boat challenge - Netherlands

Boating is an essential part of the Philippines economy

As the Philippines is an island nation, boating is necessary for transport, commerce and many industries, like fishing. There are over 7000 islands, and a vast fleet of ships must move people and goods between them.

As the world moves towards a greener future, developing sustainable marine activities is essential for the Philippines. Greenhouse gas emissions are primarily being pumped into the atmosphere on the water, not on land. So coming up with green alternatives for boating is essential for the Philippines to achieve its carbon goals.


The wave-powered trimaran

The trimaran is one of the most common ships you will see in the Philippines. They were used as sailboats for defence and fishing purposes, and have evolved to include motors for transport and commerce.

Jonathan Salvador is a marine engineer and owner of the shipbuilding company Metallica Marine Consultancy, Fabrication and Services. He saw the potential for tapping into the waves from the way the trimaran or “Bangka” cut through the waves.

“The outrigger constantly reacts to the upward and downward movement of the wave. What if we can convert this reaction into electrical energy?” he asked.

A hybrid trimaran was saddled with a wave energy converter that included hydraulic pumps built into the outriggers. When the outriggers hit the waves, these pumps harvest the kinetic energy from the water, converted into electricity. The more waves the vessel hits, the more energy it can produce – which means that it will generate the fuel it needs to cut its way through choppy seas.

COVID-19 and Typhoon Phanfone has stalled production of the final version of this vessel, but it still hoped the prototype will be ready to unveil in 2021-22.


You can make your boat more sustainable with solar panels

While a $5 million commercial, wave-powered trimaran from the Philippines might be beyond your budget, there are ways you can reduce and offset your emissions on the water.

There are many electrical components on a ship, including instruments, lighting, entertainment and appliances. You can easily power all of those electrical components with portable solar panels perfect for any boat. They will mould themselves to the vessel, are hyper-thin, and will provide all of the power you need for your electrics – which means less reliance on fossil fuels.

Interested in solar panel installation? Click here for a free quote today.