It has now been almost six month since Kerala launched its first ever solar-powered boat which has zero carbon emission and save hundreds of litres of diesel with a mere 5 paisa expenditure on every passenger per kilometre. Specially launched for state’s famous backwaters, the boad – Aditya – is now undergoing its first performance review. As per a report by Indian Express, the results are so encouraging that the state is now planning to purchase 10 more of these boats, said officials. Speaking about it performance details, Shaji Nair, director of Kerala’s water transport department said, “The operational cost of the boat, Aditya, is Rs 163 per day against a diesel boat’s Rs 7,000. Our estimate is the annual operational cost would run into just Rs 60,000, while a diesel boat’s cost for the same period would be Rs 24.5 lakh.” The boat saves fuel and has zero carbon emission with no effect on its speed, said K Sivaprasad, who is a faculty member of the ship technology department of Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT) and a key hand behind finalising the boat’s design.
“Its average speed is 5.5 knots, which is the maximum a boat can attain in Alappuzha’s Kuttanadu backwaters. Aditya’s operational speed is 7 knots. Considering the requirement of speed, Aditya’s 40KW energy capacity is no lesser than that of a similar diesel boat with a maximum of 75KW. A diesel boat can achieve a speed of 10 knots but then, no passenger boat can cross 7 knots in Kerala’s inland waterways, with hundreds of catamarans and smaller boats plying,” Sivaprasad added further.
Indian Express got hold of the water transport department’s performance review of Adiya, conducted over the last three months. This is what it said:
i. A normal diesel boat requires around 100 litres of fuel on a daily basis and 35,000 litres annually whereas Aditya has no fuel consumption. Comparing the CO2 emission aspect, a diesel boat generates around 90 tonnes of CO2 whereas Aditya does not emit CO2 at all.
ii. While other boats costs around 170 paise per passenger per kilometre, Adiya costs only 5 paise.
iii. Most importantly, for Kerala, Aditya has successfully completed 22 regular trips on a daily basis, even on rainy days.
In 2012, Nair went to Sivaparasad and the then head of CUSAT’s ship technology wing Dileep Ramakrishnan seeking an approval to run solar-powered boat in backwaters in Kerala. The report stated that, within a year, the CUSAT team had completed a feasibility study on the proposal and got the administrative and financial approval from the government.