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The DSe hybrid solar powered boat a Titanic disaster?

Solar Powered Boat The DSe hybrid is a brand new 42 foot boat promising "green cruising". What could go wrong building buying a $600,000 dollar boat from a startup company promising a miraculous new product? Here’s our top ten reasons you might want to wait for reviews before rushing out to buy one.

High Cost
solar powered boat The introductory price of a DSe Hybrid 12m is US$600,000. Comparably equipped conventional powerboats run about $250,000 less. During a recession very few will have the cash to spend on essentially experimental technologies like this.

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Questionable Durability
solar powered boat The ocean is one of the harshest environments on earth, with constant exposure to sun and saltwater. On ships solid metal can rust in a year, let alone delicate panels that should not be walked on. These unproven panels will have a difficult time surviving more than a few years under these conditions.

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Toxic Batteries
solar powered boat

All batteries are toxic to make, dispose of, have short life spans and can even been deadly when exposed to water. They contain toxic ingredients that show evidence of bio accumulating in the food chain (including in plants), which means that concentrations can rapidly become relatively high in organisms high in the food chain.

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Low Battery Capacity
solar powered boat The batteries provide only two hours of power and under electric power can generate speeds adequate for harbor cruising (about 6 miles per hour). Which is great if you want a $600,000 dollar boat capable of only a few laps in the harbor.

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Unable to Position Solar Cells
solar powered boat Non-adjustable solar panels can only harvest about 50 percent of the available sunlight due to angles and shadows from the ship itself. The catch is that the mechanisms required to adjust the panels to face the sun would break down in the harsh nautical environment.

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Minimal Deck Space
solar powered boat With virtually all of the upper deck devoted to solar panels the boat has very little space available. The delicate panels should not be stepped on and even though the power needs are probably several times the square footage used it leaves very little room for maneuvering on deck.

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It’s a Catameran
solar powered boat

Catamarans have some advantages like resistance to capsizing, spacious widths and speed advantages although the vast majority of boats are mono hull or single hulled. Here are some of the biggest disadvantages to a catameran:

  • Cost to park:
    harbors are set up to accommodate narrower single hulled ships and a catamaran can cost double the typical $400 a month in slip fees.
  • Less maneuverable:

    Mono hulls are the choice whenever close-quarters maneuvering is required. A fin keel mono hull can pivot on its keel allowing for a tight turning radius and excellent maneuverability. Cats, without the keel, must turn through the water and have a much wider turning radius.
  • Motion Sickness:
    Contrary to mono hulls which have a ballasted keel, catamarans rely only on form stability, which may lead to motion discomfort and more seasickness in light wind conditions.

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Bleeding Edge Technology
solar powered boat All of the estimates are projected, the technology is unproven and the startup company producing it doesn’t even list an actual mailing address. Pictured is the prototype built out of wood 2x4s.

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Reduced Visibility
solar powered boat Visibility will be impaired between glare from the panels, the wind turbines and solar panels sticking out above the cockpit. Small boats rely on line of sight navigation so this reduced visibility could easily result in a boating accident.

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Questionable Environmental Return
solar powered boat Face it people are buying this boat to save the planet and this boat may not do that. The life span of the solar panels and batteries, their real-world effectiveness, and construction of toxic batteries give this boat an incomplete grade at best. At worst the boats are unusable and are toxic dumps in just a few years.

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Home page for the DSe Hybrid manufacturer.

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Posted By: Jerome Aronson

News Category: Environmental, Retarded, Science


2 Responses to “The DSe hybrid solar powered boat a Titanic disaster?”

  1. Speaking from the combined experience of EV (electric vehicle) design and ownership and a graduate of California Maritime Academy with a BS in Marine Transportation and USCG Unlimited Tonnage Open Ocean License, I can say your a bit off base on your assumptions. Solar panels have been used in the recreational marine market for decades and last just fine. As to close quarters marina maneuverability, electric driven props spaced 12′ apart, well it doesn’t get better than that. All available torque at 1 rpm, and not having to clunk in and out of gear at 650 rpm of a diesel, you just have to experience that before you criticize it. With enough storage using modern and safe LiFePO4 battery cells, you could cruise the Caribbean doing the typical 100~125 nm island hoping with 3 days of sunshine in between hopes, which is typical cruising. I’m also a sailboater, and sunshine is more dependable than the winds for freedom of headings. Believe me, it is great not having to deal with propane and gasoline for galley and dinghy use.


    Robert Lemke on 17 Feb 2013 at 9:49 pm
  2. After reading your numbered reasons I’ve discovered most are rife with inaccuracies.

    #1, I’ll grant you, early adopters do pay a premium.
    #2, I already addressed.
    #3, My LiFePO4 cells have a 3000 cycle life at 80% DOD (depth of discharge) before its capacity is 80% of new rating. At my age these cells will outlast me, but either way will be disposed of properly.
    #4, I already addressed.
    #5, I’ll give you this one, but not at 50%.
    #6, No argument, deck space is limited if you want to bake your skin. Plenty of space at the helm station.
    #7, Now this has to come from someone that has no experience on either a mono or multi hull. In a rolling anchorage I’d rather be on a cat. In the nice protected anchorages that are shallow, only the draft of a cat can use them. In a confused seaway, you will have less motion in a cat or tri.
    #8, Not a start up, Island Pilot has a number of models, all mono hull power boats. Each technology is proven in other applications and not new.
    #9, I’ve sailed on everything from container ships to small sailboats and this vessel’s visibility is better than most.
    #10, After the first 9 reasons, this one is just as biased.

    Robert Lemke on 17 Feb 2013 at 10:38 pm

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