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Old 01-10-2014, 10:57   #16
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Re: Is it a bad idea to be ENTIRELY dependant on renewable energy on my 45' trimaran?

As someone who has a boat with an electric drive, I see the frame of thought behind your overall plan. That being said, I think you need to consider a safety net. Instead of absolute reliance on renewable energy sources you might consider adding a small Honda EU2000i portable generator. These things sip fuel, are user friendly, and take up no space.

You may think an investment in such an item isn't worth it, and that can be true assuming everything works as you plan. Sadly, things rarely workout like that. A small Honda portable is a safety net, and for that one time you really need its capabilities it will have paid for itself in spades. As in all things, always hope for the best but expect the worst.
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Old 01-10-2014, 11:03   #17
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Re: Is it a bad idea to be ENTIRELY dependant on renewable energy on my 45' trimaran?

The point of the post was to spark a debate, and that it certainly has.

There have been some very valid points regarding the pitfalls of an all renewables system. Firstly, the need to adapt one's cruising to fit in with the available power. Secondly, safety, but that can also be managed by having reserve battery capacity for emergency situations, but this is where it starts to bet critical. Thirdly, heating, which will also be important, but a dedicated heating system does not have to be diesel.

I know the project is a radical departure, hence the reason for posting the question. Logic dictates to have a generator to provide emergency power for the propulsion and to have a guaranteed minimum cruising distance, which will be important especially in the critical period of going through the NWP, and the diesel then can also provide fuel for a heating system.

Someone asked about experience... I stopped counting at 10,000 miles which I reached 20 years ago. Main sailing area is coastal areas of The Netherlands.

Thanks for all the posts, keep them coming.
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Old 01-10-2014, 11:03   #18
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Re: Is it a bad idea to be ENTIRELY dependant on renewable energy on my 45' trimaran?

To say nothing of the fact that while in summer months the northwest passage has longer days, it is frequently overcast, reducing our solar imput in comparison to areas such as the med or caribbean. I am with those who suggest that a hybrid system is the way to go - it will provide more safety and, as has been mentioned, you need only fire up the diesel if you want to or have to. It should also improve your resale value when the time comes.

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Old 01-10-2014, 11:06   #19
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Re: Is it a bad idea to be ENTIRELY dependant on renewable energy on my 45' trimaran?

Thanks Fog Bank, your comment is spot on as that is the type of scenario that is currently in planning.
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Old 01-10-2014, 11:18   #20
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Re: Is it a bad idea to be ENTIRELY dependant on renewable energy on my 45' trimaran?

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Thanks Fog Bank, your comment is spot on as that is the type of scenario that is currently in planning.
You are very welcome!
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Old 01-10-2014, 11:21   #21
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Re: Is it a bad idea to be ENTIRELY dependant on renewable energy on my 45' trimaran?

Best of Luck to you Sir on your endeavor. Sounds like one Helluva Journey. Please do keep us posted. As to your question. Speaking with zero experience doing what you wish to do (sail the Northwest Passage) I would never attempt such a course without a couple of proven diesel engines that could power you out of a situation as fast as possible. We all know the stories of what happens when weather closes in on you up there. Relying on Ma Nature is probably not the best idea when Ma Nature is also your worst enemy up there. Just my 2 cents.
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Old 01-10-2014, 11:25   #22
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Re: Is it a bad idea to be ENTIRELY dependant on renewable energy on my 45' trimaran?

The biggest issues I see are as follows...

1) undersized drive motor. The Neel 45 specs with a 40kw motor. Which is a pretty large electric motor. Finding the right electric drive could be an issue.

2) range under power alone - assuming you go with a 40kw motor, how much battery power will you have when you need it? Even assuming a cruising draw of ~20kw that is still a huge amount of power to pull from batteries. How long can your propulsion batteries provide this type of power for.
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Old 01-10-2014, 11:28   #23
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Re: Is it a bad idea to be ENTIRELY dependant on renewable energy on my 45' trimaran?

Sorry but this sounds like a troll, but we love trolls here on CF.

Being that I will be building a solar powered cruising boat, I have done pretty extensive research about it. As I will likely begin building next year, I say join in the effort if you are serious.

The question is what is the goal? To be the first to transit the northwest passage in a solar/wind only boat? That is a very selfish goal which has very little to do with being 'green' or using resources efficiently.

An internal combustion engine can be run on renewable energy.
To get lightweight, you simply don't use a diesel engine, a direct injected two-stroke gasoline motor can be very light and run on alcohol-based fuel.
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Old 01-10-2014, 11:44   #24
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Re: Is it a bad idea to be ENTIRELY dependant on renewable energy on my 45' trimaran?

No, your emergency system shouldn't be experimental or problematic in nature, It's supposed to work, always and in an emergency, it has to be tremendously reliable, think about it like a fire extinguisher.
I'd go with something like a Northern Lights gen if you can carry the weight and a Next-Gen if you can't.
Once you have worked the bugs out and proven the system if you have a good brand name Diesel Gen, it will be easy to sell once you remove it.
If renewable fuel is your thing, use Bio-diesel.
I doubt 1600W is enough to really do much with, that is the Honda's output and at high power, they aren't quiet. I have two
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Old 01-10-2014, 11:55   #25
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Re: Is it a bad idea to be ENTIRELY dependant on renewable energy on my 45' trimaran?

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Actually coal powered the industrial revolution back into the 1800's. Most early steam ships were coal powered. Even before that it was used for heating and oil was used in lamps.
I enjoy the levity, the people that know about a subject but not to much the BS artists.
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Old 01-10-2014, 12:09   #26
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Re: Is it a bad idea to be ENTIRELY dependant on renewable energy on my 45' trimaran?

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Sorry but this sounds like a troll, but we love trolls here on CF.



Being that I will be building a solar powered cruising boat, I have done pretty extensive research about it. As I will likely begin building next year, I say join in the effort if you are serious.



The question is what is the goal? To be the first to transit the northwest passage in a solar/wind only boat? That is a very selfish goal which has very little to do with being 'green' or using resources efficiently.



An internal combustion engine can be run on renewable energy.

To get lightweight, you simply don't use a diesel engine, a direct injected two-stroke gasoline motor can be very light and run on alcohol-based fuel.

There is no goal here with respect to "firsts". The goal is simply to try and be as energy independent as possible taking advantage of the latest proven and reliable technologies.

Furthermore, an electric engine with renewable charging sources can extend the range of a boat much further than a diesel engine alobe, whose range is limited by size of the tank, fuel efficiency, and available ports to refuel at.

I'm in agreement with those who posted that having a generator as a backup for emergencies is the sensible thing to do, which combines the best of both worlds, ie a hybrid system.

I think a renewables only system will become more of a reality when the automotive industry has come up with a game changing solution to the fuel cell / battery problem. Currently cost and weight are the major hurdles to being able to large enough battery banks to have a range of 1000 miles on a boat
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Old 01-10-2014, 12:13   #27
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Re: Is it a bad idea to be ENTIRELY dependant on renewable energy on my 45' trimaran?

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Originally Posted by Fog Bank View Post
As someone who has a boat with an electric drive, I see the frame of thought behind your overall plan. That being said, I think you need to consider a safety net. Instead of absolute reliance on renewable energy sources you might consider adding a small Honda EU2000i portable generator. These things sip fuel, are user friendly, and take up no space.

You may think an investment in such an item isn't worth it, and that can be true assuming everything works as you plan. Sadly, things rarely workout like that. A small Honda portable is a safety net, and for that one time you really need its capabilities it will have paid for itself in spades. As in all things, always hope for the best but expect the worst.
Along the same lines what about a small outboard kicker. I put a 15HP Honda 4 stroke on a 31' Sunrunner. Got 7.5 MPH, not knots, @ .75 GPH. As I recall the alternator was quite hefty. That was about 3/4 above that forget it as far a consumption on that hull. You could hear it load.
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Old 01-10-2014, 12:18   #28
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Re: Is it a bad idea to be ENTIRELY dependant on renewable energy on my 45' trimaran?

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The biggest issues I see are as follows...

1) undersized drive motor. The Neel 45 specs with a 40kw motor. Which is a pretty large electric motor. Finding the right electric drive could be an issue.

2) range under power alone - assuming you go with a 40kw motor, how much battery power will you have when you need it? Even assuming a cruising draw of ~20kw that is still a huge amount of power to pull from batteries. How long can your propulsion batteries provide this type of power for.

You are absolutely right, this is fundamental to the issue. However, the engine that is in the Neel 45 gives it a cruising speed of 10kt. This is due to the efficient nature of the trimaran design.

Electric engines up to 20kW make sense, after that they are too big, heavy, so the question is what cruising speed can be achieved with a single 20kW engine. Or will 2 be required to achieve a satisfactory cruisng speed, say 7kt+.

Given that from a safety point of view a generator needs to onboard in any case, then the generator size becomes the question, and AC or DC generator.
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Old 01-10-2014, 12:24   #29
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Re: Is it a bad idea to be ENTIRELY dependant on renewable energy on my 45' trimaran?

7+ kts? I bet if you accept 3 or 4, you'll triple your range
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Old 01-10-2014, 12:30   #30
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Re: Is it a bad idea to be ENTIRELY dependant on renewable energy on my 45' trimaran?

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7+ kts? I bet if you accept 3 or 4, you'll triple your range

I agree, but in an emergency, you want to be to get the hell out of dodge!
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