The country’s first solar ferry boat ‘Aditya’ deployed in Vaikom –Tavanakadavu section by the State Water Transport Department (SWTD) in Alappuzha district has successfully completed 150 days of voyage. Sceptics who doubted its ability to operate on a large scale under cloudy and rainy conditions have been proved wrong.
“During the rainy days (when very limited energy from the sun was available) too, we could conduct the normal service of 22 trips with grid charging being done during break. The boat completed 150 days of voyage as on June 12 (inaugurated on January 12), conducting a total of 3,058 trips with 2.3 lakh passengers travelling in it,” said Traffic Superintendent (Ernakulam region) M. Sujith.
The actual daily cost of operation was as low as Rs 163 as against the average daily fuel expense of Rs 6,500 and maintenance cost of Rs 500 for a fuel operated boat.
“One of the main arguments of critics was that the battery will drain in two hours on a cloudy day. It has been two weeks since the heavy rains started. On many days the contribution from sun is very low, even as low as 10.5 kWh (against 65 kWh on sunny days), yet the service was not affected,” said Sandith Thandassery, founder of NavAlt Solar and Electrical Boats Ltd which constructed the boat.
So far, the solar boat resulted in saving 14,200 litres of diesel and help in saving 38 tonnes of carbon-dioxide emission. The successful run comes even as the Union Ministry of Renewable Energy is considering a request of the state government to extend fund for 10 more solar ferries. The SWTD too is planning to replace existing fleet by solar ferries in a phased manner over the years.