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A solar powered catamaran has begun ferrying passengers up and down the river Spree in Berlin.

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A catamaran powered by photovoltaics has begun ferrying passengers up and down the river Spree in Germany’s capital city. The first SunCat 120, one of a pair, was launched in the eastern port on 11 June 2020. It is made entirely of aluminium and equipped with long-life, lithium-ion batteries.

The Munich-based manufacturer of the storage system, Aentron GmbH specialises in commercial maritime shipping. An Aentron HV storage system based on 10 kWh modules was installed in the boat’s hull. The modules have a high load capacity due to robust metal housing and have been designed to offer flexibility: on-board energy and propulsion power storage can be separated. The batteries can charge during journey time and ensure a full day of operation.

The elegant and ultramodern-looking catamaran with yacht-style interior has been built by SolarWaterWorld and will be operated by SolarCircleLine. The rooftop solar panels generate enough energy to move 180 seated people for 12 hours at a cruising speed of 9 kilometres per hour. It is hoped the carbon-neutral riverboat, one of the first of its kind, will become a tourist attraction in itself.

Construction of the boat and its identical twin sister, which is pending approval by the Central Ship Inspection Commission (ZSUK), was funded by the Mobility Division of Berlin’s Senate Department for Economic Affairs and Energy.

“We are delighted to be part of this forward-looking project”, said Dr John de Roche, director of innovation and development at Aentron in a press release. “We are proud that we are one of the few manufacturers to be able to demonstrate certification in accordance with the strict criteria of DNV GL, and thus have been able to contribute to the success of the overall project.” The DNV GL rules concern safety, reliability and environmental regulations which ships have to maintain in international waters.