#6. Solar Panels


When racing offshore Hannah and Rob will need to generate their own power to run their weather instruments, navigational computers, the autopilot, water ballast and any other electronically driven systems. As stated in winning solution #1, this has traditionally been done by using diesel fuel to generate power off the vessel's engine.


Although Team 11th Hour will predominantly use their hydrogenerator for energy generation, the primary reason for adding solar panels is to create a redundant non-fossil fuel energy source in case the hydrogenerator can’t be used (because the boat may not be moving quickly enough) or breaks. Therefore, Hannah and Rob will be able to still charge their batteries with the use of solar panels. The primary energy source will be the hydrogenerator, solar panels will provide redundancy and if both of those systems fail there is the engine. 

While solar panels have been used in offshore sailing for many years, they traditionally have been difficult to generate enough electricity that will make a difference in a major offshore race. The panels Team 11th Hour will use are 8 volts so they'll use 2 wired in series to generate 16 volts and ensure in all conditions they will be charging. In addition, the team will use a Mastervolt advanced regulator to control the voltage and get the most out of the panels. What's also unique about Hannah and Rob's panels is that Mark Wylie at Eastern Electronic Marine has made a very lightweight portable support system to angle the panels to the sun for maximum exposure.

While noted in winning solution #1 it is worth repeating that for a 25-day race, Team 11th Hour would need to use 1 gallon of fuel per day; so by using the hydrogenerator and solar panels they'll reduce fuel consumption by 25 gallons. 25 gallons of diesel is equivelent to 200 pounds or 90kg. Not carrying that extra weight will make the boat lighter and a little faster. It will also save Hannah and Rob time and physical exertion when moving the stack from side to side when tacking. Ultimately this combination contributes to Team 11th Hour being Cleaner, Faster, Better.