Q: What carries passengers, can cruise as fast as seven knots, yet creates no air or noise pollution?
A: A solar-powered boat in the Galápagos.
This innovative watercraft is the result of a joint project between WWF and the Galápagos National Park. Using an existing boat—which the Park had confiscated from an illegal fishing operation—we worked to transform it into an alternative energy vessel.
The boat now operates entirely on solar power—which means no fuel and no emissions.
- eight solar panels atop the canopy
- two large batteries which can provide about eight hours of power
- an electric motor that can reach speeds sufficient for water taxis
- a motor so lightweight it can be carried easily for service
- very little maintenance (no oil changes or fuel stops)
This is the latest innovation toward the goal of reducing the human footprint and promoting ecotourism in this delicate marine environment.
Boats are the primary mode of transportation in the Galápagos Islands, yet there are many drawbacks. Fuel has to be imported from the mainland, which is very costly, and motors spill fuel and oil into the water—and that’s in addition to the pollution created by engine smoke.
Now there is a “greener” method of transportation in the Galápagos—a solar prototype for small watercraft—which we see eventually being applied to commercial operators.
For now, the solar boat will be used for educating the public about renewable energy. Investing in this type of technology will save boat owners on fuel costs over the long-term, while providing invaluable benefits to the marine environment in which they operate.