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This proposal was moved to: Transportation Workspace 2021
This proposal was reopened in Transportation 2018


Use of Solar boats in tourist places can reduce the air, water and noise pollution.



The extraordinary beauty, cultural wealth and great diversity of Odisha's coastal areas have made them the preferred destination for many holidaymakers in India and abroad, making coastal and maritime tourism an important tourism sector. Such tourist destinations offer boat riding in lakes & back waters. In most cases these boating facilities use conventional diesel engine boats which are fuel guzzlers causing air, water and noise pollution disturbing the local habitats & endangering the ecological balance of the surrounding areas.

As a matter of fact the tourism industry is already over utilizing the natural resources for its own benefit without much consideration of preserving them. Considering a great need for conservation of marine eco system and fostering Eco Tourism simultaneously, Practical Action is proposing introduction of SOLAR BOAT in the coastal recreational hubs. 

Solar boats are free from air, water and noise pollution. There’s no smell of diesel or petrol fumes. Since there’s very low vibration, it makes it more comfortable for passengers.  If we factor in the cost of pollution caused by diesel boats, then solar boats are break-even from day one.

Is this proposal for a practice or a project?


What actions do you propose?

Initially the pilot project is envisaged to be implemented in an existing tourist attraction in Puri district of Odisha which was visited and surveyed by technical team of Practical Action. Extensive discussion with the different stakeholders such as the tourism office at Puri, the boat owners association at Ramchandi and the department of forests has received a massive positive response. In Puri it can be replicated in another place called as Satapara. Besides this solar boats can be used in Dhenkanal, Bhubaneswar, Cuttack and many other places where there is such tourist places. 

For commuting of tourists off and on shore, there are 36 passenger boats and 12 motor bikes. The dimensions of boats are 18 ft long, 7.5 ft width, 3.5 to 4 Q weight which runs on 9.5 Hp diesel motor. The individual boats are mostly fibre built and are capable of carrying 8 to 10 people. The fuel consumption of each boat is about 2 litre per hour which approximately helps in travelling about 8 Km. Ramchandi is an ideal tourist spot because the water depth is 5 to 10 ft and relatively calm water in the 10 km long estuary. Each boat gets about 1-2 trips in lean season which rises to 3-4 trips in peak seasons. The tourist spot has an addition feature in the vicinity where an ODRAF (Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force) training unit is in operation. This might come handy in case of any disaster in the area.

However there have been some of the issues identified which are highly desirable in a marine tourism industry. Walkie-talkies for better communication, life jackets & fire extinguishers were found missing in almost all boats. Moreover it was observed that the drivers do not follow a definite dress code and the boats are not kept in tourist friendly way.

The following major activities will be carried out in the project;

  1. Strengthening the boat owners association
  2. Training to the association members for O&M of the boats
  3. Converting the boats to solar powered boats
  4. Providing life guard accessories
  5. Workshops to influence policy makers
  6. Documentatiion and Dissemination of the success 


Technical Specification of engine:  

The Hybrid solar and electric model will be demonstrated in one boat initially at Ramchandi and the boat association will provide the boat which will be retrofitted with the hybrid system.

Key features:

The solar boat can do everything that a  1.5 / 3 HP petrol outboard can, plus it’s environmentally friendlier, quieter, lighter and more convenient. The solar equipment’s are completely waterproof (IP 67). The boat will have additional features such as on-board computer with GPS-based calculation of remaining range. The batteries on board will be both electric and solar rechargeable, solar recharge will also be possible during the voyage. The entire system can be easily dismantled for transport.

About Solar boat:

E-boats are not new, but solar drive systems are an interesting development. On board solar generators allow independence from the plug socket.
Solar plants produce a safe, self-sufficient source of energy. Emission-free drive systems not only to protect the environment, but they increase the quality of the boating experience - for example, in protected areas it is possible to approach water birds very closely without much noise.

Solar driven boats are very simple and extremely efficient. The torque exists over the entire speed range, so that large propeller diameters can be driven slowly; thus, shaking, rattling and the stench of fuel are eliminated, so that one can breathe deeply, enjoy conversation and experience more pleasure in the ride. The beautiful animal world is hardly disturbed and can be observed from a short distance.

All measures will be taken to validate the safety, efficiency & durability of the solar boat. Ergonomic designing will be ensured before the concept is grounded in the field. The solar panel and the battery bank will be placed in such a way in the boat so that the balance and stability will be assured. The proposal has identified scope of collaboration with the leading technical university in Odisha (Centurial University of Technology and Management). The university has a state of the art laboratory and test the prototype.

Government of India has not issued any definite speed limit norms for plying boats at tourist locations. Most tourist locations in Odisha normally have unorganized boat operators, which ply their boats grossly under-equipped with inadequate safety gears. Moreover the distance covered in the traditional boats is less than 8 square kilometres in the key tourist destinations which means the time and speed is not important rather the noise and air pollution is primary concern in the mentioned locations. The 3 HP solar boat will be capable of carrying the same load as the traditional boats though with less speed and power but this will make the journey more peaceful and enjoyable.


Who will take these actions?

The partners of the project would be as follows:

Boat Association, Ramachandi, Practical Action Foundation, Tourism department, GoO, Department of Police, research institutes such as Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT) / Centurian University.

As it would be the first of its kind model demonstration in the state, it would pave a way for the tourism department to encourage all boat associations to adopt for a gentle, safe and friendly ride on water. The learning from the project will help us improve upon and innovate further to meet the varied needs of energy requirement in boating business.

Where will these actions be taken?

The project will be implemented in Ramachandi of Puri district of Odisha, India. The project will benefit the families those are earning their livelihoods by running the boats. This shall benefit the boat owners as well as the boat drivers.

This action shall influence the policy makers, department of tourism as well as state government to replicate the model in other such places.

In addition, specify the country or countries where these actions will be taken.


Country 2

No country selected

Country 3

No country selected

Country 4

No country selected

Country 5

No country selected


What impact will these actions have on greenhouse gas emissions and/or adapting to climate change?

The conversion of a single boat can reduce the 30 tons of CO2 emission in that area. Besides this it will also help in reducing noise and water pollution. 

The details of a conventional boat;


Engine: Out board Diesel 

Energy Source: Fuel

Average boat running time / Day (Hours): 6 hours

Total HSD required in an hour (Liters): 6

HSD consumption by one boat in a day (Liters): 36

Average days of operation in a year (Days): 300

Total HSD consumption in a year (Liters): 10800

CO2 Emission (Tons / Year)*: 30

What are other key benefits?

The other key benefits of the project are;


  1. Reduction of CO2 emission
  2. Reduction of noise pollution
  3. Reduction of water pollution


  1. Shall increase the earing of individuals by INR 1500 per month by saving the expenditure on diesel


  1. Shall help the tourists a pleasant drive
  2. Shall ensure green tourism if replicated properly


What are the proposal’s projected costs?

The projected cost of the project is around INR 5,500,000.00 (around 86000$.)

We are planning to convert 6 boats for this project. The project shall be implemented within a period of 1 year. 

Engineering Challenges

•    Design of the pontoons / vessel boat to achieve the maximum efficiency and safety
•    Design of the boat to be able to carry weight of the panels and passengers
•    Generation of sufficient solar power to operate and also charge battery bank
•    Selection of most suitable high efficiency electric outboards



It shall take 1 year to successfully implement the project. But the to get the desired result of influencing the policy it may take another 1 to 2 years. 

About the author(s)

Dr. Birupakshya Dixit: A doctorate in Anthropology, presently leading the India office of Practical Action. 

Er. Sanjit Behera: An engineering graduate, presently working on the Renewable Programmes of Practical Action.

Mr. Goutam Aryabhusan: A post graduate in Disaster Management, presently working as the Program Development Manager with Practical Action. 

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