According to reports, all the fuel and noise pollution caused by boats in our waters may be a thing of the past if an experiment planned by the Kerala State Water Transport Department succeeds. It has decided to go in for solar power as a fuel source in its boats.
The state government has sanctioned the project submitted by the KSWTD and entrusted the Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT) to study it. A special team has also been formed to review the feasibility study.
KSWTD director Shaji V Nair said, “If the project is implemented, it will be a breakthrough in the history of water transport in the state. Half the expense incurred by the department is for fuel. About `7.5 crore was spent for fuel last year. At the same time, the boats were emitting huge quantities of carbon dioxide. If the solar-powered boats are operational, it will be a great success for the department which will also benefit the environment,” he said.
“The department has decided to begin a service on an experimental basis on the Thavanakadavu-Vaikom sector. This sector is very suitable for such a trial as the distance from the two destinations is about two kilometres and the tidal wave effect is low,” he said.
Marine-grade aluminium and other lightweight materials are needed for the construction of boats. “But we are planning to use indigenous technology and expertise for the purpose,” he said.
The govt has appointed a team from CUSAT to conduct a feasibility study.
The solar-powered boats will be noiseless and pollution-free. A diesel motor boat having a capacity of 42 seats will emit about 2.5-tonne carbon dioxide every year. A solar-powered boat constructed by Team Sustain was pressed into service in the Vembanad lake for a private hotel group.
Team Sustain MD George Mathew said, “Our solar-powered seater boat is being used by a hotel group for the last two years. It costs about `18 lakh. A 10-seater motor boat needs six litres of diesel per hour. If it runs six hours daily for 300 days a year, it needs 10,800 litres of diesel. As per the present market rate it needs `4.86 lakh for running for a year,” he said.