Solar boat

As the name implies, Freepower is an autonomous vessel, drawing all its energy from the surrounding environment. Unreliant of the nonexistent charging infrastructure for boats. The roof is entirely covered with thin film solar panels that charge the batteries from sunrise to sunset. Making it free to use, and silent. Integrated navigation lights and subtle ambient lighting make traveling through the night safe and comfortable.

Project metrics

Client: Freepower AS

Concept, schematic, detailed design and hull design: Pivot industridesign AS

Computational Fluid Dynamics: Tvetech AS

IOT and electronic design: Bjurtech AB/Freepower AS

Software: Rhinoceros, V-Ray, Orca3D Marine CFD (Simerics-MP)

Year: 2019 - td

Dimensions: LOA 7,1m | Beam 2,5m | Height over water 2,3m | Draft 0,4m | Weight 1100kg 

Propulsion: SeaDrive electric azimuth-pod. Power 5 kW - 7,5 kW

Battery: LFP (LiFePO4) 4,5 - 18 kWh (depending on configuration)

Photovoltaics: 1,6 kW

Speed: cruise 4,5 kn / top speed 7 kn

Range at night: 15 – 60 NM / 3 – 12h at 4,5 kn (1 – 4 batteries)

Material: aluminum

CE-class: C

Passengers: max 6 persons for Utility | 10 persons for Coast & Escape

Freepower comes in three different trims: Utility, Coast and Escape. Each catering to a different use.

Utility is the The versatile work boat. In its most basic form, the Freepower has six seats and plenty of cargo space. Surfaces are bare metal and rubberized with non-slip for durability and safety. Freepower Utility is ideal for diving, harbor maintenance, and personnel- and material transport tasks. Cargo tracks on the mid deck are ready for fastening all types of equipment.

Coast is designed for recreational use, the Coast is a robust, low maintenance cruiser with plenty of space for family and friends. The stable hull and large aft platform provide safe access to activities in the sea. Walking surfaces are covered in EVA foam for a sure foothold and cushioned feel. Also making entry and exit easy for passengers of all ages.

The Escape is a yacht in miniature. All horizontal surfaces are clad in Flexiteek and all sitting areas are covered with plush cushions draped in Sunbrella fabrics. LED ambient lights cast a soft light on all three zones. A cooler drawer is integrated in the furniture, keeping food and drinks fresh. The aft platform is extra wide and Flexiteek rub rails replace the gunwale fender. 

The 23 foot aluminum boat is constructed from a compound of single curved surfaces. The advantage being a tool free production process that can be set up anywhere. Aluminum is infinitely recyclable and causes no harm to marine life. Contrary to the glass fiber reinforced plastics in most boats. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and was used extensively to iterate and optimize the hull shape. Simulating dynamic resistance, hydrostatics and stability is a major cost- and time saver. When done right, the built prototype will verify the designed and simulated characteristics. This is also the case for Freepower, with only one prototype made. Just subtle changes and refinements were done for the production version. These include tuning the overall feel, stopping power, thrust when turning sharply and increasing manufacturability.

Freepower is a good example of the philosophy that “the best part is no part”. Functionality is integrated rather than added. Such as the cutouts for handles along the center consoles and cleats for mooring. Unobstructed gunwales contribute to the functional and utilitarian design, making handling ropes and dealing with anything outside of the boat easy. Furniture and optional equipment is mounted on two longitudinal cargo tracks on the main deck. This is a future proof system that accommodates scenarios and uses that we have yet to imagine. Three zones with different characters add to the idea of versatility. A generous integrated aft platform for easy entry/exit also doubles as a sun deck with a folding sofa. This zone is open to the sea and has a ladder for bathing. Between the aft and fore consoles that support the roof, there is a cabin and seating area, helm and an optional pantry. The deck in this zone is lower and sheltered by a roof and high gunwales. The bow is a combined seating and lounging area. A custom trampoline/hammock turns it into a sun bed.

All decks are above sea level and self drained through gutters and scuppers. The solar roof is large to collect sun, and will also collect rain when it rains. Instead of entering the boat this water is channeled in gutters surrounding the roof, and drained out into the engine bay. Forward facing window reduces glare and water collection.

Few and carefully selected materials that are easy to separate, help reduce the ecological footprint. Everything attached is repairable or replaceable. With electric propulsion and solar power, almost no moving parts are needed. On board energy production greatly reduces the need for battery capacity, which in turn reduces weight, cost and footprint. In direct sunlight the boat reaches cruising speed without relying on the batteries. The Sea Drive pod is mounted in a separate watertight aluminum hull recessed into the transom. This unit can be tilted 180 degrees, to bring the propeller and pod out of the water and into a protected and accessible position. Good for mooring, maintenance or when retrieving and towing on a trailer.

IOT is an important part of this product. The electronic system on board takes care of charging and battery care, and feeds data to an app where you can monitor multiple states. Such as location, climatic conditions, trim/heel, battery level and charging rate. The app will also let you plan your route and cruising speed, taking into account weather conditions, time of day, tides and battery level. The prototype and the first limited series production boats are made at Skarsvåg Boats, a shipyard on the island of Hitra. Skarsvåg is a reputed builder of aluminum work boats for the Norwegian coast.