Heavy metal

Visitors to Hyde Park can now take a ride across the Serpentine on a solar-powered boat.


The Serpentine SolarShuttle cruises at 6mph, has a maximum range of 40 miles and can carry 40 passengers. Its solar-electric engine will, it is claimed, save around 1.3 tonnes of CO2 emissions compared to a traditional diesel-powered boat of the same size.


Twenty-seven curved glass photovoltaic modules collect energy from the sun, creating more than 2kW of power. A specially designed energy management system then stores the power in the batteries and optimises the performance of the solar modules. The batteries store enough power to allow the craft to operate for up to 20 miles in complete darkness.


The SolarShuttle, which was designed to be used as a floating classroom to teach schoolchildren about solar energy, was created by Christoph Behling, founder of SolarLab Research and Design. The firm is working on a wide range of solar products from solar-hydrogen trains to photovoltaic rickshaws and solar housing.

The company is now developing solar-powered boats that could run on the Thames and would be able to carry up to 250 passengers.