Kerala’s water transport authority to launch India’s first solar-powered cruise

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Buoyed by the success of the country’s first solar powered passenger boat, Kerala’s State Water Transport Department is preparing to launch India’s first solar cruise.

Confirming the news to pv magazine, department director Shaji V Nair said the premier solar powered cruise boat will be launched within four months.

“The Rs3 crore, 1o0-passenger capacity cruise boat is under construction at a boatyard in Aroor and will be rolled out in Alappuzha district,” said Nair. “The hybrid vessel will be powered by a motor that can source energy from solar panels, [a] battery [and] generator and will come with 80 kWh power backup.”

The two-deck, double-engined catamaran-style vessel complies with Indian Registry of Shipping standards.

Ferry proves a hit

Two years ago, the State Water Transport Department introduced Aditya, the country’s first solar ferry, on the state’s Vaikom-Thavanakadavu route. Incurring rock-bottom energy expense of Rs200 a day to operate – compared to Rs8,000 for diesel ferries – Aditya has been a huge success.

Considering the huge savings in energy expense, the department has since drawn up plans for five more solar ferries in the state with two already under construction.

Founded in 1968 and based in the district of Alappuzha, the water transport department caters to the needs of inhabitants of the waterlogged areas of the district and nearby Kottayam, Kollam, Ernakulam, Kannur and Kasargode and transports nearly 1.5 million passengers per year using wooden and steel or fiberglass passenger boats.

Speaking to pv magazine during InterSolar 2018, Kerala minister for power MM Mani spelled out the state’s solar vision. “Right now we only have an installed [PV] capacity of 100 MW but by the end of 2019 we plan to install 1 GW, of which 500 MW will be rooftop and 200 MW floating solar,” said Mani. “Rooftop is the best option for Kerala because there is not much free land and land acquisition is a tedious process.”