Solar powered ferry boat Aditya clears trial on Vembanad lake

Solar powered ferry boat Aditya clears trial on Vembanad lake

The 2.5km stretch of Vembanad lake from Vaikom to Thavanakkadav will witness a rare feat next month when its first solar powered ferry boat ‘Aditya’ will set loose for sailing. Aditya is first one of its kind ferry boat with 75 seaters in the country that is powered with solar. The boat successfully cleared the trials under the supervision of technical committee, Kerala Ports Surveyor and IRS.

solar boat

Shaji Nair, MD Kerala State Water Transport Department (KSWTD) said, “It is a real achievement. Our operational costs will be reduced very much since we expect 40 percent reduction in fuel cost compared to the diesel-powered ones. It will be noiseless, vibration-free and non-polluting.”

It cost around Rs 1.7 crore and two years to build the catamaran boat. This is equivalent to the cost of building conventional ferries. But what makes Aditya special is low consumption of fuel. Though it has not been declared officially, the boat will be ready for sail in two weeks. Launched into the back waters at Aroor, it is a 20 metre long, 7 metre wide boat, with a maximum cruise speed of 7.5 knots.

“The solar ferry sailed as expected and attained the maximum speed of 7.4 knots at a 90% propulsion power. To attain the cruise speed of 5.5 knots, only 15 kW power was needed,” said Sandith Thandassery, CEO of NavAlt. NavAlt, a Kochi-based joint venture with a French company, built the vessel. It took a year to design and one more to construct the boat.

“The battery and motor console, which underwent testing, are from France. The boat will be capable of plying the waters for 5 to 6 hours on normal sunny days. A trip between the two points takes 15 minutes. Since it is on experimental mode, the boat has in place an alternative power system to meet emergencies. The main expense is the cost of the battery which will have to be replaced after seven years. But overall it is cheaper if we operate it on a 10 hour basis daily,” said Sandith, who is also a marine architect.

“It runs on a technology which has been proven and is in use in France for past 15 years. Moreover, we scrutinized the boat at every stage. We are not blind to the allegations. But the allegations against the project ceased to have ground after the boat conducted a three hour non-stop operation in the presence of technocrats,” said Shaji Nair.

The solar boat Aditya is also eligible for subsidy from the Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.

Source: NewIndianExpress

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