• Exploration


The first solar-powered polar navigation

During the summer of 2015 the Fondation PlanetSolar led the first solar polar navigation ever performed. In the summer of 2015 Raphaël Domjan and Anne Quéméré, a Breton sailor, attempted to travel through the North-West Passage as part of this expedition in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The initial journey anticipated some 3000 km through the ice in two kayaks, one of which was specially equipped with photovoltaic panels and an electric propulsion system. This was principally a scientific mission which, due to the unfavourable weather conditions, was prevented from achieving the final objective. However, travelling about 300 kilometres in the Arctic Ocean, it showed the potential for solar energy in the polar regions.

This was a first, and an unmatched scientific experience

At this latitude the sun never sets in summer. According to the sunshine data from the Canadian Meteorological Service and our calculations, during this short summer window it was possible to produce as much energy over a day as it is along the equator. Nevertheless this energy production took place over the 24 hours of the day. To date, no-one has tried to use solar energy to get about at such a latitude. This expedition made it possible to show that up to twice as much energy can be produced as on the equator and to confirm the calculations and theoretical estimates.


A step towards a new solar maritime adventure

This expedition was a real challenge, as routes were rare and often obstructed by ice. They opened and closed, twisted and distorted throughout an immense Arctic archipelago, along an incredibly complicated maze of gulfs and channels, basins and narrows. Weather and charts were approximative. After 4 weeks blocked by ice, and then wind and blizzards Anne and Raphaël turned round and returned under their own steam. This adventure opened up a vision of a new, even more ambitious solar adventure for the Fondation PlanetSolar…

Discover the video trailer of this adventure

And a few pictures