Why Not Solar?

Darko Kapelina says the bottom line is that most electrical and propulsion systems on sailboats are powered by fossil-fueled engines which are not efficient and the cost to power them up will only continue to increase.  So, how do we resolve this challenge?  We move towards getting the necessary energy from other sources such as solar, wind and electrical propulsion, all with an eye towards improving regenerative systems by minimizing, and ultimately eliminating, the need for fossil fuel or even shore power.

So why not solar? Solar alone will not do it, but it can move us closer to a complete solution.  Questions immediately surface about the type of solar panels and if the panels are installed flat or if they align perpendicular to the sun’s movement through the day.  These are all important questions, but the answers depend on the sailor’s overall goal.  However, the crux of the matter is that on a sunny day solar panels on a sailboat have the capacity to generate 1 – 6 kWh.  Not great but it’s an excellent start!

This is a radical improvement in the cost of producing energy.  More and more advances in solar technology can be leveraged to maximize gains in efficiency.  Darko Kapelina is interested in ideas and systems geared at improving regenerative sailing.