At a shipyard in Germany today, PlanetSolar unveiled the world's largest solar powered boat: a 30-meter long catamaran that will be powered exclusively by about 38,000 SunPower monocrystalline solar cells. Two sailors will circle the globe in a trip beginning early in 2011--this will be the first circumnavigation to be completed in an entirely solar-powered vessel of any kind. The catamaran will be launched for initial testing as early as next month. This will be the first solar powered ship to cross the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and maintaining an average speed of 8 knots (nautical mph) will make it the fastest solar ship to cross the Atlantic as well.
Driving from Phoenix to Tucson should take a shade under two hours. But traffic pushes that up by forty minutes or an hour, at times--no one's idea of a nice day trip, much less a commute. But what if you could hop on a train that would get you there in thirty minutes? No security lines at the airport, no flight delays: just thirty minutes at a blazing 220 miles per hour, traveling in science fiction-esque comfort aboard a completely solar-powered train.
A recent USA Today article corralled details of the US airports that currently have, or are planning to have, renewable energy systems installed to help with their staggeringly high electric needs. Solar electric panels and innovative wind turbines are the two technologies the article considers. There are other ways to save energy--Boston Logan, for example, has a terminal that makes clever use of passive solar and gray water recycling--but these are definitely the splashiest.