A trip to Kerala around 5-6 years ago inspired the concept of a solar electric hybrid ferry in Goa. Kerala is known to house the first ever solar powered vessel in India called Aditya. The Captain of Ports Department and the River Navigation Department are currently in the process of introducing the second solar ferry boat in India.
The ferry will most likely be inaugurated by mid-October 2022, and thereafter will commence on the Chorao to Panjim route. The ferry will have a passenger fee which will be tried and tested, and finalised in view of public response.
“The ferry service is based on a green model because it harnesses solar energy,” said James Braganza, Captain of Ports. The boat has been built at a cost of approximately Rs 4 crores and is said to be able to accommodate 60 passengers.
Since it is relatively expensive, the government will decide on whether they will be expanding the ferry service by making more hybrid boats. The shelf life of this boat is around 15 to 20 years under normal conditions.
Although it is locally made, the main engines of the vessel are from Italy. The ferry with its solar frames is 20 metres in length, 7.5 metres in width and 1.6 metres in depth.
The main propulsion is through the motor of the boat, which can be charged using three sources: a direct electrical shore connection, which is the main source; solar power, which will be a continuous charge as per availability; and the fail-safe method, which is using generators that are installed on board in case of an emergency.
The ferry has two propulsion motors, both 130 kilowatts each. The solar panel rating is around 20 kilowatts. “If the vessel operates at 8 knots (14 km/hr), the vessel can operate for 4 and a half hours without its battery being charged. Thereafter the battery will be discharged to 90 per cent and will have to be charged for a little more than 2 hours,” said Octavio Rodrigues, Marine Engineer and Ship Surveyor.
The solar power will trickle charge the battery whenever available.