CS01-Solar Fishing Boat

Executive Summary
Navgathi embarked on a challenging task of converting a 32 ft fishing boat, locally referred to as “Pillana” in Gujarat. The challenges were numerous – stability, system design, powering, and economic feasibility. Solving all those require multiple iterations in the design stage and two during actual execution. The boat, after conversion, currently referred to as Solar Pillana, is now plying successfully in the sea near Kodinad.
The  greatest challenge in converting a small fishing boat (Pillana) to solar is to maintain its stability characteristics. For a small vessel of 32 ft length and 5 ft width, adding solar panels on the top would affect the stability in adverse manner. This becomes critical in  this vessel since this is sea going.
The system design to optimize the combination of panel size, number, rating, arrangement; charge controller rating; battery size, number, rating; motor rating was another challenge. The panel size and battery backup size had to be right to ensure that the system is effective.
However, the most important aspect after meeting the technical requirements is to ensure that the overall project is economically feasible. The aim was to ensure that the additional expenditure incurred in installation of this system should break even in under five years. For this size of boat the savings that is generated in way of reducing the kerosene consumption is to the tune of 500 liters per month.
The system consists of:
  • Solar panels fitted on the top of the boat, erected on stainless steel structure, at a suitable height without compromising on normal operation and stability.
  • Suitably selected charge controller matching the system voltage and current limits.
  • Battery sizing the give sufficient backup considering the weight, cost, rating, system voltage.
  • Electric outboard motors of similar power as the kerosene outboards that it is replacing.
  • Battery shore charging unit to ensure that the batteries can be charged from AC power when the boat comes back after a fishing trip.
  • DC-DC converter provided to give 12V plug sockets to connect the lights including one for navigation.

The system give the following benefits:

  • Drastic reduction in the fuel consumption for fishing, so much so that the returns of the investment is under five years
  • The system is 100% eco-friendly and do not create any air or water pollution.
  • The outboard motor is very silent and hence friendly to the user.
  • Government can save on the subsidy provided for the kerosene to the fishing  community and redirect this funds to other projects.


Download the Case Study here.

SunCRZ 22
Solar Ferries