Kerala comes up with new water transport solution as Solar cruise boat

Kerala comes up with new water transport solution as Solar cruise boat

Buoyed by the success of Aditya, the first solar-powered ferry launched at the start of this year, the Kerala State Water Transport Department (SWTD) is all set to launch a solar cruise boat. The government has already accorded sanction to the project and the tender process to build the 120-seat air-conditioned cruise boat is on.

“It’ll be built by conforming to the India Register of Shipping (IRS) specifications. It’ll be a double-hull, catamaran-class boat powered by  lithium-ion batteries having an 80 kWh total capacity. The boat’s estimated cost is Rs 3 crore and it’ll be launched within a year,”  SWTD Director Shaji N Nair told Express. The cruise boat, designed by the Cochin University of Science and Technology’s (CUSAT) Ship Technology Department, will have a dining hall on the deck.

“The plan is to start operating it on the Alappuzha-Kumarakom route,” said Water Traffic Superintendent M Sujith. Aditya, powered by two 25 kWh lithium-ion battery drawing power from 78 solar panels, currently runs eight scheduled services in the Vaikom-Thavanakkadavu stretch and it can operate for 5-6 hours on normal sunny days. Its success inspired the SWTD to tap more clean energy.

With the Kochi Metro Rail Ltd all set to launch modern cruise boats in Kochi under the Water Metro project, the SWTD is gearing up to rise to the expectations. The tender process to buy 14 double-hull, catamaran class ferry boats, each costing Rs 1.8 crore, is in the final stages. “Five of them will be steel boats built by the Steel Industries Kerala Ltd and others made of fibreglass”, said Shaji.

The new boats are expected to change the face of the SWTD, which has been ridiculed for its old fleet and frequent trip cancellations. “These boats will make journey more comfortable and also ensure passengers’ safety,” said Shaji.

The department has also drawn up an ambitious plan to launch an on-call 10-seater water taxi service within a year to meet tourists’ demand. It can be booked through a helpline number to be publicised by the department.


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