In 2021, the solar ferry ADITYA won the Gustave Trouve Award for the “World’s Best Electric Ferry.” It was chosen as a great demonstration of a renewable energy project that is also economically viable. The success of the boat and the impact it has created have generated a lot of interest in India and other countries with abundant sunlight.
To ensure this interest leads to a suitable product configuration, one must understand the philosophy of solar boats. This book introduces solar boats and covers the various aspects to consider when making decisions. Each area requires further expansion with much reading and research; this book is merely a window to the vast knowledge that awaits an enthusiast.
After clarifying what solar-electric boats are and introducing their potential market, the book answers the question, “Why do we need solar boats?” Next, the philosophy of solar boats and the difference between fossil fuel boats are described, and all the available technology choices are listed. The stage is set to start on the design of the boat, and the processes of design and construction are outlined. The tests and trials solar-electric boats undergo are briefly explained, followed by descriptions of the operations and maintenance of a solar boat. Finally, the solar ferry ADITYA is featured, and the last chapter lists the steps we need to take for the faster adoption of solar-electric boats.
The primary target for this book is the marine transport system’s decision makers, advisors, and team, who need to understand the fundamentals of solar-electric boats. This book provides the insights essential for when one encounters a decision in marine transport. It is also meant for other stakeholders in marine transport like operators, financiers, policymakers, government departments, and, finally, commuters and enthusiasts.
Praise for the book
“I’m thrilled to see this wonderfully written and extremely informative book on Solar-Electric Boats by Sandith. This sector is on the cusp of commercialisation at a global level, and India could benefit immensely from such disruptive and clean technologies.”
– Naveen Munjal, Managing Director, Hero Electric
“Solar Electric Boats: Plan, Build and Benefit is a comprehensive guide that will be enlightening and instructive not only for those who want to build a boat – but also for those they need to approach for financing and support. While the world of solar power in marine propulsion is in many ways only in its infancy, I predict with confidence that this publication will be a benchmark reference work that proves itself useful and informative now and for years to come.“
– Jeff Butler, Editor/Publisher of Plugboats
Founder of the Gustave Trouvé Awards for Excellence in Electric Boats and Boating.
“I was delighted to read that Aditya won the Gussie for its class and that a whole fleet of solar-electric water buses is being built. The excellent and clear way in which Sandith Thandasherry presents the technical and environmental arguments for solar boats, merits study for anyone wishing to pursue the same route. Well done!“
– Kevin Desmond, President Electric Boat Association; Author “Electric Boats and Ships: A History”
“Very lucid in his depiction of new technology, Sandith has not kept anything from the reader. He has presented the technicalities of the solar panels; the battery capacities; Fuel Cell; the integration of the power train; and the layout, structural design & weight control. I urge all to read the book and be inspired.“
–Jyotisman Dasgupta, President, Institution of Naval Architects
The world as we know it is changing. The need for clean mobility – be it on land, water or in air has never been more important and relevant than it is today.
I have been pursuing my passion and vision to steer India towards eco-friendly transportation via my company Hero Electric since 2007. When I met Sandith, I discovered a kindred spirit in him with a parallel drive as fervent as mine, dedicated to developing clean and efficient transport solutions.
Solar-powered boats have a substantial impact on improving the environment and the marine life. Electric boats are also far more comfortable due to the lack of noise and vibration from the engine. Though the initial CAPEX of such ferries is higher than that of conventional diesel ones, the OPEX is far lower thereby greatly reducing the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and making the economics tilt in favour of clean energy boats and ferries.
The success of the solar-powered ferry boat ADITYA is the inspiration behind Solar Electric Boats. The launch of this resourceful marine travel option has successfully generated and sustained the interest in many states to harness and utilise sunlight to develop solar-powered mobility. Solar-Electric Boats – Plan, Build and Benefit offers an introduction and covers various aspects of this subject.
I’m thrilled to see this wonderfully written and extremely informative book on Solar Electric Boats by Sandith. This sector is on the cusp of commercialisation at a global level, and India could benefit immensely from such disruptive and clean technologies.
I’m sure a lot of entrepreneurs would take inspiration from the content in this concise yet thorough book and consider investing in this sector. Advocates and amateur aspirants can consider this book as an initiation to the world of sustainable travel. Go and inspire yourselves!
Managing Director, Hero Electric
I have felt for many years that if the world is to change and rid itself of the continuing and increasing problems caused by the accumulation of carbon in our atmosphere, the two keys will be the electrification of all motors and the harnessing of solar power to provide the required electricity.
It is one of the reasons I started the Plugboats electric boats website, and one of the first articles published was about a commuter ferry in India demonstrating the possibilities for the future with a commuter ferry using electric propulsion and the power of the sun.
Now the man behind that ferry has written a book for others who would like to explore this kind of future themselves.
Solar Electric Boats: Plan, Build and Benefit is a comprehensive guide that will be enlightening and instructive not only for those who want to build a boat – but also those they need to approach for financing and support.
With the mind of an engineer Mr. Thandasherry clearly outlines all of the aspects and details that need to be considered for the physics of a solar boat. At the same time he brings the experience of an entrepreneur who achieved success by understanding the needs and desires of both private investors and government officials.
The charts, research, and facts and figures are laid out clearly, concisely and without bias, but also with a passion for proving that the endless supply of energy from the sun provides a better way to design, build and operate boats for personal pleasure, commercial tasks and public transportation.
It is one of those books that achieves two goals. It is general enough to be understood by the novice, but also detailed enough to provide food for thought and specific guidance for the expert.
The Aditya and Mr. Thandasherry were the recipients of the first Gustave Trouvé International Awards for Excellence in Electric Boats and Boating and this book demonstrates why the honour is well earned and well deserved.
While the world of solar power in marine propulsion is in many ways only in its infancy, I predict with confidence that Solar Electric Boats: Plan, Build and Benefit will be a benchmark reference work that proves itself useful and informative now and for years to come.
Editor/Publisher of Plugboats
Founder of the Gustave Trouvé Awards for Excellence in Electric Boats and Boating.
India invented the 0, so it only seemed appropriate that India would adopt zero emission vehicles, not merely buses, taxis and electric bicycles, but also boats for her many waterways. In history, Indians have risen to a challenge: Gandhi for national independence, Swaminathan for agricultural independence, and now Sandith for fossil fuel independence.
As historian of electric boating, including the innovation by Alan Freeman of solar-electric boating, I have chronicled solar boat epic voyages such as Turanor Planet Solar. As the biographer of Gustave Trouvé, who tested out the world’s first battery-electric boat on the River Seine, some 140 years ago, I was delighted to read that Aditya won the Gussie for its class and that a whole fleet of solar-electric water buses is being built.
The excellent and clear way in which Sandith Thandasherry presents the technical and evironmental arguments for solar boats, merits study for anyone wishing to pursue the same route. Well done!
President Electric Boat Association; Member of AltFuels Committee (Inland Waterways International); Author “Electric Boats and Ships: A History”
This is the story of ADITYA, a designed, built, and running Solar Ferry operating in Vaikom-Thavanakadavu, in the idyllic backwaters of Kerala. The first-ever such boat built in India. Like all good storytellers, Sandith Thandasherry has laid out the plot, invoked all the necessary characters, and busted the myth that Indians cannot think independently and execute them. Very lucid in his depiction of new technology, Sandith has not kept anything from the reader. He has presented the technicalities of the solar panels to choose from; the battery capacities; the option of the Fuel Cell; the integration of the power source through the power train to the propeller; and the layout, structural design & weight control required for floating passenger ferry. The book also dwells on the options of leisure boats and a different sized ferry suitable for other services. Needless to say, the GHG reduction and other emission controls are in keeping with the societal targets
Not only a trained Naval Architect, any engineer, or a technically oriented person can read this story of ADITYA and build one’s own solar-powered boat. Happy that I am with this achievement of a fellow young Naval Architect, I urge all to read the book and be inspired. Many can possibly endeavor to make their own solar Leisure Craft or even a solar Water-Scooter with a little ingenuity.
God Bless Sandith! May your tribe increase!
President, Institution of Naval Architects