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High Tech Solar Solution For Maliza

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  • High Tech Solar Solution For Maliza

    A fundamental objective of Team Malizia’s Vendée Globe campaign is to spread the message of sustainability, to draw attention to climate change including its impact on the marine environment, and to participate actively in oceanic research, so as to help scientists to better understand ongoing changes to the earth’s climate. Our Malizia Ocean Challenge is already a great success in all its three fields – sailing, science and education – but this year we want to go one step further by making our IMOCA 60 completely emission-free. “Sail around the planet without leaving a trace of pollution” – that’s our aim!

    We have teamed up with SOLBIAN Solar and have been installing a fully custom-made, innovative solar system for Malizia 2 over the last months – a major step towards a zero-emission boat. So, a lot has been going on “behind the scenes”! We have asked Michael Körner from SOLBIAN Solar to talk us through the design process, mounting and technical specifications of the brand-new system on board.

    Interview conducted by Yannick Kethers

    Y.K.: First of all, installing a solar system on board an IMOCA 60 is a challenging project…

    M.K.: In fact, we had to take a lot of factors into account given the difficult circumstances found on board: To begin with, the solar panels will be exposed to extreme weather conditions and salt water over a long period of time. We had to find suitable spaces for the panels: One objective for Malizia’s system was to keep the working deck clear of obstructions while gaining maximum solar power. In this respect, we had to consider shadowing of the panels, which is quite significant due to the large rig and sails. In the end, our system must fulfil a number of requirements: Being resistant, light, reliable, well-performing and easy-to-handle.

    Y.K.: How exactly did you proceed in order to get the most out of the solar system given the expected difficult operating conditions?

    M.K.: We have used detailed 3D CAD (computer-aided design) data for the initial system design and curvature analysis, followed by printing true to scale (1:1) templates to fine-tune wire positions and panel outlines. During the entire design process we have worked closely together with Team Malizia and have finally created a custom system for the yacht, perfectly tailored to the needs of offshore racing and making optimum use of the available space on the deck of Malizia 2.

    Y.K.: How are the solar panels mounted on the boat?

    Wiring and electrical components are well protected from the elements
    M.K.: All panels are adhesive-backed and – following sanding and careful surface preparation – are mounted or glued flush with the deck. All the wiring is invisible, hidden under each panel, and lead inside the boat through just two little holes. Thus, the wiring, connections and electronic components remain well protected from the elements. The adhesive itself forms a strong barrier, preventing any water ingress. We have paid special attention to the solar panels which have been installed outside of the boat’s guardrails: Those particularly exposed side panels have been formed with a single smooth outline matching the hull shape to make sure that waves do not apply pressure on the panels’ edges.

    Y.K.: You have installed solar panels, which have differing surface structures. Tell us more about that.

    M.K.: The central panels installed on the coach roof (SolbianFlex SP Series) have a nonskid lens-structure, making them less slippery and allowing Boris to work safely on this area. The panels are fully walkable. The ones mounted on the side decks (SolbianFlex SX series) have a smooth surface, minimizing drag.

    Y.K.: How do you overcome the problem of shading?

    M.K.: In order to maximise energy yield we first started analysing which parts of the boat exactly throw shadows on the yacht’s deck surface and the coach roof. We then defined all possible shaded areas. On the basis of the analysis, we have integrated an optimised string layout with bypass diodes to bridge the boat’s shaded zones. 15 distributed step-up MPPT (maximum power-point tracking) regulators make sure that every single panel can be used and produces electricity, even if a significant part of it is completely covered. So, almost every panel is regulated separately, allowing each of them to work on their maximum power point and providing a high level of redundancy.

    Y.K.: That sounds like a technically complex system…

    M.K.: One of the features of our system is that it works automatically and makes sure Boris is able to use the boat with 100% renewable energy. It charges the boat’s 48V Lithium-Ion battery system without human intervention and avoids the previous necessity for hourly battery charging. So, Boris does not need to do anything. Eventually, the comfort on board is improved and Boris can focus on sailing and tactics.

    Y.K.: In conclusion, what is the performance of Malizia’s solar installation?

    M.K.: We now have a system with 1.149 Wp (watt-peak, a value achieved in standardized testing environments to be able to compare solar panels) on board.


    Key data:

    – 1.149Wp

    Looking perfect: Meanwhile, all panels have been installed. Malizia 2 is getting ready for sailing.
    – 15 high efficiency step-up MPPT regulators

    – 33 strings with integrated bypass diodes and shadow-optimized layout

    – 5’’ monocrystalline SolbianFlex SP cells with nonskid surface in the center

    – 6’’ monocrystalline SolbianFlex SX cells with smooth surface on the sides

    – invisible and waterproof wiring below the panels

    – fully walkable

    – pre-mounted adhesive

    – low carbon footprint due to material mix and local manufacturing (Italy)

    For more information contact:

    Michael Körner

    +43 650 5709366

    +49 152 04096530

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  • #2
    Advantage Boris. Leading the quest for power while remaining light. Hope he doesn't boil during the
    equator crossings with all those clear panels overhead.
    ~Every cloud has a silver lining (except for the mushroom shaped ones, which have a lining of Iridium & Strontium 90)~