TECH

World's Largest All-Solar Powered Boat, Turanor PlanetSolar, To Embark On Gulf Stream Mission

19/06/2013 10:18 BST

The world's largest fully solar-powered has docked in New York ahead of an environmental mission to study the effects of climate change on the Gulf Stream.

The gargantuam catamaran, the Turanor PlanetSolar, is covered in 516 square metres of solar panels which power all 90 tonnes of it to a cruising speed of five knots.

It also has 'wings' that extend when at sea to maximise its energy gathering potential. Despite its massive size it only has four crew.

turanor planetsolar

The Turanor PlanetSolar crossing the Atlantic

Martin Beniston of the Institute of Environmental Sciences at the University of Geneva, said: "Our goal is to understand the complex interactions between physics, biology and climate - to refine climate simulation.

"Since the ship is powered by solar energy it does not emit any polluting substances that could distort the data collected on its 8,000-kilometer journey between Miami and Bergen, Norway."

In May of last year it became the first solar-powered vehicle to travel all the way round the world, a feat it completed in 584 days.

The Gulf Stream is an Atlantic ocean current that starts at the tip of Florida and extends all the way across the ocean before splitting in two.

One stream heads over northern Europe while the other recirculates off the coast of West Africa.

It plays a crucial role in the weather of the UK, warming the country around 5 degrees more than would be normal for our latitude.

It is feared that melting ice caps caused by global warming could disrupt or even halt the Gulf Stream which in the worst case scenario would plunge Western Europe into a new ice age.