Largest solar ferry at Vaikom, IndiaLargest solar ferry at Vaikom, India
8 November 2016.
Trial run of IITian's project on November 12
When nation's largest solar-powered passenger ferry makes its trial run in the Vaikom and Thavanakadavu route in Alappuzha on November 12, it is a dream-come-true for thirty-eight year old Thrissur native Sandith Thandasherry, a naval architect of 1999 Batch from IIT, Madras, who has led building it. Sandith is the founder of NavAlt Solar and Electric Boats that has built the boat for the Kerala State Water Transport Department. The 20 meter long ferry is having 75 seat passenger capacity and will have a cruise speed of 7.5 knots. The boat is undergoing finishing touches at the assembling yard at Aroor.
According to him, both the structural design and hydrodynamics of hull and battery management hold the key in making large solar boats commercially successful. French company AltEn supplies critical power train consisting of lithium-battery and motor console to run huge solar ferries. "The solar ferries would cost around Rs 2.5 crore while conventional ones of same capacity costs around Rs 1.5 crore. The additional cost can be recovered in about two-three years. The reason being, diesel ferries would require at least Rs 30 lakh per year for fuel plus maintenance. Solar ferries would need to spend Rs 30 lakh on battery replacement every seven years and a grid charging cost of Rs 1.4 lakh per year," says Mr Sandith.
Sandith first moved to South Korea and built his own team and undertook construction of about 25 oil tankers, chiefly at Hyundai Heavy Industries. After five years, he left Korea and did MBA at INSEAD at France. He then focused on specialized vessels like dredger, weed harvester and finally on solar boats and ferries and later established NavAlt forging partnership with AltEn (Alternative Energy).
These would be good for the Chinese economy.