Gorgeous views from a solar-powered boat

Thursday, 15 October, 2015 | Supplied by: Trina Solar Australia

Gorgeous views from a solar-powered boat

At the remote eco tourist resort Adels Grove, located on the Queensland/Northern Territory border, a solar-powered boat has improved the experience enjoyed by visitors and boosted the bottom line.

Adels Grove is located 10 km from the Lawn Hill Gorge at Boodjamulla National Park, a major tourist attraction. Previously, on-the-water access to the gorge was only by means of canoes; however, this was difficult for some elderly visitors. Furthermore, as petrol outboard-powered craft were ruled off-limits by Queensland National Parks, the full gorge experience was being missed by a number of tourists as the only alternative was to walk to Indarri Falls.

The owners of Adels Grove recently had the opportunity to purchase two 10 passenger tourist boats that had been originally designed for operation with a 9 hp petrol-driven outboard motor. In consultation with Queensland National Parks, it was agreed that a solar version of the pontoon would be acceptable to operate within the gorge. The owners of Adels Grove approached Matt Brewster of Q Energy Solutions of Mount Isa to provide them with a solution.

“We devised the solar system using eight Trina Solar panels arranged on the roof in two strings of four, connecting to SunXtender batteries," said Brewster. “The motor is a Torqueedo 4 hp, 48 V electric motor replacing its petrol equivalent, a Honda 4-stroke 9.9. As a result, visitors can now the travel in a solar electric-powered boat to see the scenic majesty of the gorge from the water.

“The boat cruises at 4 km/h during daylight hours only. As a result, the battery voltage remains above 53 VDC, ensuring the batteries are maintained at 100% and the boat is powered directly from the panels.

“The battery storage is available if cruising above 4 km/h (max speed is 10 km/h), on low-irradiance days with high cloud cover, at night or for any emergencies.

“In operation it is very quiet, just a low hum, which is important in such a tranquil setting."

Adels Grove joint owner Michelle Low Mow said the solar-powered boat has dramatically improved how visitors can enjoy the gorge, encouraging them to stay longer.

“Previously we could only offer canoes for visitors to row or a short walk to see the falls, but now we can offer a quiet and comfortable one-hour ride along the Lawn Hill Gorge," she explained. “This is extremely important as the majority of our visitors are over 50 and a lot of them are over 80 years of age.

“The boat cost us $60,000 and we charge $35 per head for the trip. As over 3600 made the journey last dry season, we earned well over $100,000."

Adels Grove has been operating as a tourist facility for over 40 years, according to Low Mow. It includes accommodation and camping facilities, as well as a restaurant and store.

“We are extending and are planning to build 10 more rooms over the summer period, and these will all use solar power," Low Mow said. “We plan to phase out the current diesel generating system over time."

Online: www.trinasolar.com/au
Phone: 1300 874 627
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