Canadian Engineers Launch First Solar-Powered Dinner Cruise

Ride Solar will launch service around Charlottetown Harbor in Prince Edward Island.

Stephen Arnold from Ride Solar is working to minimize climate change and carbon emissions. He’s taken to heart the Prince Edward Island commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions thirty percent by 2020. Arnold’s vision is a transit system in PEI that combines land and water vehicles for sight-seeing, commuting, and leisure trips. Ride Solar is running a Kickstarter campaign for their ship Isola Solaretto, what they hope will be the world’s first solar-powered dinner cruise and tour boat.

Ride Solar worked with E.Y.E. Marine Consultants on the conversion of the ship first called Expo Service No 5 at Expo 67. The hull length is 11.66 meters and beam length 3.91 meters. Elco EP-70 electric motors are the main engines and Konrad 560 stern drives are used for propulsion. Solar arrays are placed along the top of the vessel while two strings of batteries sit underneath to power the motors. Based on the E.Y.E. drawings it looks like there are 16 panels producing 100 Watts and 24 panels producing 200 Watts so the full array is planned to produce 6.4 kiloWatts. Lexan viewing panels are installed in the floor so riders can see the batteries and engines during their trip. The ship is built for 44 passengers with a full complement of 49 riders including the crew.

On some level we have to play the engineer that ruins everyone’s good time, and point out that adding a ship into the Charlottetown Harbour will most assuredly cause more carbon emissions over time than the do-nothing option. But there are so many great sustainability ideals at play here – recycling a boat from a World’s Fair that pledges to use renewable energy is fantastic. The hope is that Ride Solar’s maiden voyage will happen this summer as a “Make Canadian History” tour, in the first solar-powered inter-provincial ride between Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. The campaign is not yet successful and will end on May 25, 2019.