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Solar-electric vessel launched in Tunisia

The boat will operate in lake Lac de Tunis for daily passenger transport.Photo: Al-Buhaira Invest Company
SINTEF has led a project for sustainable maritime transport in North Africa. The result is a transport boat powered by batteries from solar cells.

Over the past five years, researchers and engineers from Norway and Tunisia have worked together on the design, engineering, manufacturing and commissioning of the unique solar-electric boat SOLARIS.

The Tunisian-Norwegian cooperation project won first prize in the The United Nations' open competition "Powering the future we want" in December 2016 and a donation of 1 million US dollars was granted to the project.

– This is a very good example of SINTEFs vision "Technology for a better society". We are grateful for the support we have received from the United Nations and hope the project will inspire to similar projects and investments where technology development and North-South cooperation are at the forefront, says SINTEF Research Director, Nina Dahl.

The boat is now in operation on lake Lac de Tunis. This was marked by an official opening ceremony on Monday, July 10, 2023. Photo: Al-Buhaira Invest Company

Powered by batteries from solar cells

The project has aimed to promote sustainable electric maritime transport in North Africa. This has been demonstrated in Tunisia by building an electric vessel based on solar cells. In addition to designing and constructing the boat, the work has consisted of collecting data on the feasibility of maritime electric mobility. Further, the project has arranged several seminars and conferences on the theme sustainable transport in the North Africa region and the project has emphasized on education and recruitment.

The result is a solar-powered transport boat with a capacity of 30 passengers and two crew members. The boat will operate in lake Lac de Tunis for daily passenger transport between the different parts of the city and have an approximate duration of one hour per trip.

With its broad expertise in solar energy, electrification and maritime transport, SINTEF has led the project and been involved in all phases of the project.

Photo: Al-Buhaira Invest Company

The boat is 12 meters long and 5 meters wide. The aluminium hull was delivered by Hydro, the rest of the boat was built by a local shipyard in Tunisia.

– We are proud to have taken up the challenge and to be the first Tunisian shipyard to achieve this feat of building the first Tunisian electric boat. We thank the collaboration with our Norwegian colleagues, the SINTEF researchers with whom we constantly exchanged opinions to better adapt the construction of the boat, says Wassim Koubaa, CEO of Industrial and Naval Construction Company.

Commenting on the project, Director of ANME, Fathi El-Hanchi, said:

– Cooperation with SINTEF has become a tradition at ANME. We were able to exchange experiences with our Norwegian colleagues on the success of electric mobility in this Nordic country. We consider the commissioning of this solar-electric boat the start of a national effort that we will accelerate for the transition to modes of transport without greenhouse gas emissions. ANME will play a central role in this effort.

«Solar Fuelled Electric Mobility»

The project "Solar Fuelled Electric Mobility" (SoFEM) has been carried out by SINTEF in collaboration with the Tunisia Agency for Energy Conservation (Tunisia),  Albuhaira Invest (Tunisia) and CleanTech Innovation AS (Norway).  Project leader is Senior Research Scientist Moez Jomaa, SINTEF Industry.

The project is funded by The United Nations - Departments of Economic and Social Affairs.

Al-Buhaira Invest Company has co-financed the project by, among other things, building a modern docking station.

Read more about the project SoFEM.

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