Manama: The MS Turanor PlanetSolar, the world's largest solar-powered vessel, was warmly welcomed in Doha where it has docked as part of a round-the-world voyage that started in Monaco in September last year.
QSTec, a Qatar-based solar grade polysilicon company that supports innovative uses of solar technologies and applications, is hosting the boat at the Pearl pier for three weeks on its longest stopover in the region.
The boat, built in Germany, is powered by 537 square metres of photovoltaic cells. "Wings" on the front and rear of the boat can be stretched or contracted to capture more or less sun, and the rear wing has sensors that allow it to move towards the sunnier side of the boat.
On the boat, which can take up to 40 people, showers, lights and fridges are all powered by solar energy.
"We are excited to see these breakthroughs — once a dream — become a reality," Khalid Klefeekh Al Hajiri, board member and CEO of QSTec, said.
"MS Turanor PlanetSolar demonstrates what we hope will be an end-product for QSTec's endeavours, and its arrival here strengthens our resolve to develop products that will enable the creation of new and innovative uses for solar technologies to help protect the environment," he said.
The idea to travel the world on a vessel using no fuel and emitting no carbon dioxide was dreamt up by Swiss engineer Raphael Domjan in 2004. The challenging project, which brought together physicists, engineers and sailors, was christened PlanetSolar and gave birth two years later to the MS Turanor PlanetSolar.
"Qatar has all the ingredients to be a powerhouse of solar energy, but above all it has the same vision that brought about PlanetSolar," Domjan said. "We wanted to acknowledge Qatar and its support of solar initiatives through organisations like QSTec by making this our longest stopover in the Arabian Gulf."
The name Turanor is derived from the Lord of the Rings saga and translates into "The Power of the Sun".
The first solar-powered world tour is expected back in Monaco in May next year.