Laura Carrabine, Senior Editor
WAGO 758 Series IPCs are managing solar energy for Tûranor PlanetSolar, the world’s largest solar-powered boat. Conceived by Raphaël Domjan, a Swiss eco-adventurer and PlanetSolar founder, Tûranor is a catamaran research vessel for solar power use. Tûranor will embark on a solar-powered 2011 worldwide tour with planned stops in San Francisco and New York City. According to PlanetSolar, the 2011 tour will be the first solar-powered circumnavigation by any means of transport.
Gleaming with more than 500 sq. meters of photovoltaic panels and packing 11 tons of batteries (with chassis), including the 388V lithium ion battery, Tûranor is a showcase for solar power advancements and sustainable transport. To support the multi-hull ship’s planned average speed of 7.5 knots over 31,069 miles and 140 days, WAGO supplied three 758 Series IPCs with control functionality and electrical components.
WAGO IPCs control charging for three batteries and 10 Drivetek Maximum Power Pick Trackers (MPPT) via 13 CAN buscouplers. These high-end
dc/dc converters improve the PV panels’ solar absorption — vital for the fixed, deck-mounted PV panels. This also helps ensure safety for the four-member crew as Tûranor has no gasoline backups for steering or propulsion. WAGO’s electrical components feature vibration and thermal cycling-resistant, gas-tight connections for reliability in harsh marine environments.
Switzerland-based PlanetSolar SA is an international project, whose team includes physicists, engineers, boat builders, and a number of environmental protection specialists. The record-making voyage will promote use of solar power and sustainable development. The €10 million Tûranor is financed by German investor and solar power leader, Immo Ströher. His goal is to advance practical use of solar power for applications such as shipping. Derived from the J.R.R. Tolkien Lord of the Rings saga, the ship’s name “Tûranor” translates into “the power of the sun.”