More than a year after its departure, the world's largest solar powered ship has made a stopover in Mumbai, India. The ship, known as PlanetSolar's MS Turanor, is on its record-breaking attempt to be the first fully solar powered vessel to sail around the world.
Captain Erwann Le Rouzic said given Mumbai is a world renowned city, their decision to stop in India was an important choice.
India has seen an increasing uptake of solar power, particularly in providing lighting to poor communities, and Le Rouzic said bringing the MS Turanor to the country was a timely reminder of the effectiveness of using an alternative source of power.
"There is no doubt that MS Turanor is living proof of what the present technologies in the solar energy sector can do. India is a gigantic emerging market... they are becoming a symbol of success for the other emerging countries, so it's important that part of this success is built through the use of renewable energies."
Le Rouzic said he hopes their trip to Mumbai will inspire more solar developments in India. "We are pleased to see that solar powered installations are increasing in India... and there are so many possibilities to use solar energy in India. We hope that our short visit will help to initiate new projects."
The MS Turanor proves that solar energy can be used to power a form of transportation, said Le Rouzic. He said in the coming years he could envision similar boats to MS Turanor being used as passenger yachts and said he was keen to "explore a new generation of boats".
Le Rouzic said the MS Turnaor has also helped to prove that there are alternative forms of renewable energy that can make a positive contribution to the environment.
"Technology can bring some kind of a better life, and using renewable energy in our daily life is a good sensation: you feel good about yourself, about the future of the planet, and the future of your kids and the next generations."
During their stopovers in various cities on their journey, many people have expressed how impressed they are with the MS Turanor as an innovative idea for solar powered transportation, said Le Rouzic. "I believe that people driving an electrical car or having solar panels on the roof of their homes are proud and happy to participate in a good way to the future of the planet."
Swiss engineer and founder of the MS Turanor, Raphael Domjan always had faith in the ship's ability to prove that current renewable energy technologies are reliable and effective. "We want to prove that it is possible," he said.
The intention of the journey is to also advance scientific research into the production and storage of solar energy, he added. "Our project is to serve humanity and the environment resolutely and to overtake the possibilities of fossil fuels, called classical energies."
The ship faced favourable weather conditions as it continued its journey across the Arabian Sea on Saturday, headed towards the Persian Gulf. The team are travelling towards Abu Dhabi to arrive in time for the World Future Energy Summit in January 2012.
The ship began her journey from Monaco in September 2010 and embarked on a round-the-world trip where the crew have attempted to chase the sun in order to capture as much available solar power as possible to navigate her at an average speed of 7.5 knots. The ship has already sailed more than 45,000 kilometres solely on solar power.
The ship that cost more than €12.5 million (approx. £10.9 million) to build has a multi-hull catamaran that measures 31 metres by 15 metres and boasts 536 square metres of photovoltaic solar panels - the equivalent size of two tennis courts. These photovoltaics will help the Turanor on its circumnavigation of the earth. Powerful lithium-ion batteries store excess solar energy generated to run the ship's electric engine at night and in periods of low sunlight.
Turanor, the ship's name, has been inspired by JRR Tolkein's Lord of the Rings, means "power of the sun" and has sparked hope of a solar-fuelled future.
The MS Turanor has already achieved two records: fastest crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by solar boat and longest distance ever covered by a solar electric vehicle.