Solar-powered catamaran MS Turanor Planetsolar, considered to be the largest solar ship in the world, is in the UK, where it will be docked at Canary Wharf in London. It is the first time the ship has visited the country.

In its most recent journey, the MS Turanor Planetsolar has been used by an interdisciplinary team from the University of Geneva to conduct a scientific research expedition, Planetsolar Deepwater. The expedition’s aim was to collect physical and biological measurements along the Gulf Stream.

The ship is up to 35 metres long and 23 metres wide, depending on whether the solar panels are opened or closed. The panels are closed if the ship is docked or in rough weather and opened when at sea in calm conditions, with 29,160 photovoltaic cells covering 512 square metres of surface area, supplying 8.5 tonnes of lithium-ion batteries. MS Turanor Planetsolar features two electric motors providing 60kW of power for each of the ship’s two hulls.

Between September 2010 and May 2012, MS Turanor Planetsolar completed the first exclusively solar-powered trip around the world. Earlier in the year, the ship completed a 23 day, 4,598 kilometre north Atlantic crossing before taking the trip from where it was moored in Ostende, Belgium to London on 30 August. Of the recent crossing, Gérard d’Aboville, captain of the ship said: “The weather conditions were particularly unfavorable during this crossing! The wind, first during our southern descent, then the current, and finally a much lower than average amount of sunshine in the region for this time of year!”.