World's biggest solar boat docks in Hong Kong

HONG KONG, Aug 15, 2011 (AFP) - There is "huge potential" to use alternative energy in the shipping industry, the man behind the world's biggest solar boat said on Monday as it arrived in Hong Kong as part of a global voyage.

PlanetSolar, a 31 by 15-metre (100 by 50 foot) white catamaran, is equipped with more than 500 square metres (5,380 square feet) of solar panelling and can reach a top speed of around 15 knots, equivalent to 25 kilometres (15 miles) per hour.

AFP - The Turanor PlanetSolar arrives in Hong Kong on August 15, 2011

"We see there is a huge potential for solar boats," project founder Raphael Domjan said.

"We have the technology to change and we are optimistic."

Domjan acknowledged it was unlikely cargo and commercial ships would rely on solar power alone, but said it could be combined with other clean energy sources like wind.

The boat, which can carry up to 50 passengers, arrived in Hong Kong from the Philippines after embarking on a world tour from Monaco last September.

The 60-tonne Swiss-flagged vessel was built in Germany and cost 18 million euro ($26 million).

Merchant shipping accounts for 4.5 percent of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions, according to United Nations figures.

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