Aditya (boat)

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Flag of India.svgIndia
Name: Aditya
Owner: Kerala State Water Transport Department
Operator: Kerala State Water Transport Department
Port of registry: Kodungallur
Route: Vaikom - Thavanakkadavu
Builder: NavAlt Solar and Electric Boats, Kochi, India
Cost: 370,000 US$
Yard number: Y-09
Launched: 9 November 2016
Completed: November 2016
In service: 12 January 2017
Status: In service
General characteristics [1]
Class and type: Indian Register of Shipping IRS +IW ZONE 3 FERRY
Displacement: 23 tonnes
Length: 21 m
Beam: 7 m
Height: 3.7 m
Draught: 0.95 m
Depth: 1.75 m
Decks: Single
Installed power:

2 × 9 kW (cruise)

2 × 20 kW (max)
Propulsion: 2 Permanent magnet asynchronous electrical motors - 20 kW each (max) @ 700 rpm
  • 7.5 knots (13.9 km/h; 8.6 mph) (max)
  • 5.5 knots (10.2 km/h; 6.3 mph) (cruising)
Capacity: 75 passengers
Crew: 3

Aditya, India's first solar ferry, is a solar-powered ferry operating between Vaikkom and Thavanakkadavu[2] in the Indian state of Kerala.[2][3] The boat was inaugurated by Kerala Chief Minister Sri. Pinarayi Vijayan and Central Cabinet Minister for Power, Renewable Energy, Sri. Piyush Goyal on 12 January 2017.[4] It is India's first solar-powered ferry[3] and the largest solar-powered boat in India.[5] The vessel was designed and built by NavAlt Solar and Electric Boats[6] in Kochi, India. NavAlt is a joint venture firm between Navgathi Marine Design and Constructions,[7] Alternative Energies[8] (France) and EVE Systems[9] (France).


The boat is operating since launch on 12 January 2017 between Vaikkom and Thavanakkadavu.[2][10] The live position and operation data of the boat is available in the Kerala State Water Transport Department website -

On 12 January, 2019 it completed two years of service. In this period the boat carried 600,000 passengers and travelled a distance of 38,000 km without a single drop of fuel thereby saving 58,000 litres of diesel. This saved almost 45 lakhs (65,000 US$) in diesel and maintenance cost.

The first year of operation shows the following summary[11].

  • Propulsion energy per day for 22 trips – 72.8 kWh
  • Propulsion energy per trip – 3.3 kWh
  • Battery state of charge (SOC) at end of day – 58%
  • Grid charging cost per day – 2.6 US$ (₹ 179)

The first150 days operation data shows that even rainy days during monsoon did not affect the schedule of the boat.[10][12]

  • Propulsion energy per day for 22 trips – 73.7 kWh
  • Propulsion energy per trip – 3.5 kWh
  • Battery state of charge (SOC) at end of day – 60%
  • Grid charging cost per day – 2.5 US$ (₹ 163)

The first 60 days operation data of ADITYA yielded the following results[13]

  • Propulsion energy per day for 22 trips – 73.3 kWh
  • Propulsion energy per trip – 3.33 kWh
  • Battery state of charge (SOC) at end of day – 65%
  • Grid charging cost per day – 1.9 US$ (₹ 124)

Test and trials[edit]

The boat was launched on 9 November 2016. After that multiple sets of tests and trials were conducted to verify the operational characteristics and safety standards of the boat.

  • Optimisation Trials - to refine the settings in the internal software to ensure higher efficiency in the solar energy conversion and propulsion system, the tests was done on 13 and 14 November 2016 with the experts from France.
  • Builders Trials - done on 15 November 2016, to ensure the systems was functioning as per specifications.
  • IRS and Technical Committee Trials - done on 16 November 2016[14] to verify the operation, speed, safety of the boat. The maximum speed was noted as 7.4 knots @ 90% propulsive power. The power needed to move the boat at cruise speed of 5.5 knots was 15 kW. The boat was also tested for redundancy trials by shutting down one system and checked whether using one system the boat can still move at cruise speed of 5.5 knots. Other manoeuvring tests were also done.
  • Client Trials - done on 25 November 2016,[3][15] along with Transport Minister Sri. A. K. Saseendran, Aroor MLA Sri. A. M. Ariff, Vaikom MLA C. K. Asha. The performance was satisfactory for the dignitaries as well as the operators of the Kerala State Water Transport Department. The Transport Minister proclaimed that 14 more such ferries are planned this year.[3]
  • Site Trials - done at Vaikom to Thavanakkadavu route in presence of Technical committee, IRS and Kerala Port surveyor from morning to evening. As per the specifications, 22 trips was done with full load and it was satisfactory.

Technical features[edit]

The 20-metre-long and 7-metre-wide boat is covered by 140 square metres (1,500 sq ft) of solar panels rated at 20 kW, which in turn connect to two electric motors of 20 kW, one in each hull. There are 700 kg of lithium-ion batteries in the ship's two hulls with a total capacity of 50 kWh. The catamaran hull and its shape allow it to reach speeds of up to 7.5 knots. This was verified by Indian Register of Shipping surveyor, Kerala Port surveyor and technical committee. The hull was designed based on extensive experience of Navgathi[16] and AltEn[17] and extensive computational fluid dynamics (CFD) was done to determine its hydrodynamics. The boat is designed to be used as a passenger ferry to operate between Vaikom and Thavanakadavu.[18]

The normal operating speed is 5.5 knots (10 km/h) to achieve a 15-minute travel time between Vaikom and Thavanakkadavu, a distance of 2.5 km on water. For achieving this speed, the power needed is about 16 kW. During manoeuvring, when leaving the jetty or approaching it, about 22 kW of power are needed. Hence, on an average about 20 kW power is needed. The total running time, neglecting the time in jetty for embarkation and disembarkation of passengers, is 5.5 hours on a sunny day (depending on client needs).[19]

Although the maximum power needed is a total of 22 kW during manoeuvring and 16 kW under cruise, more than double the power, a total of 40 kW, is provided in two motors of 20 kW each. The two systems on either side of the boat (in each demi-Hull) are electrically independent to ensure redundancy in case of system failure in one. Even if one system fails the power is available to safely cruise to shore with other. Also, unlike diesel engines, since efficiency does not drop with load, the electric motors can normally operate at 50% load and in emergencies at 100%.[19]

For higher safety standards and reliability, the vessel is built under Indian Register of Shipping rules for inland vessels and operating conditions of the Vaikom – Thavanakkadavu route. The boat construction is complete and was tested by Technical committee, Indian Register of Shipping surveyor and Kerala Port surveyor on 16 November 2016, near in backwaters at Aroor.[19][20] The boat is registered in Kodungallur Port under Kerala Ports.

The boat is remotely monitored and trouble shooting can also be done remotely. All the operating parameters of the boat are recorded and transmitted to the NavAlt Solar and Electric Boats[6] server from where the technical experts can monitor the boat. The upgrades and settings in the software can also be performed remotely as if a computer is plugged on the boat. This makes the boat even more safe.

The project cost was US$370,000.[19][21][22]

Safety features[edit]

  • The boat is a catamaran and hence more stable than single hulled boats. The boat can safely carry 200 passengers and still meet the tough stability criteria of IMO sea-going ships.
  • The propulsion battery is approved by DNV Class. These higher standards of safety are essential to ensure the risk of thermal runaway is minimal.
  • The battery monitoring is on a cell level and hence risks are lower.
  • There are three levels of safety warning - first being a warning that certain parameters are approaching the limit, second is the warning that limits have reached and hence need a slow down, and finally the warning that limits have breached upper limit and system need to shut down to protect it. The parameters include temperature of cells, motor, and many more.
  • There are two independent power train that provides reliability and redundancy. A system fault in one power train does not affect the other since they are electrically independent. The boat satisfies the Indian Register of Shipping's safety requirement of being able to maintain cruise speed with one set of propulsion shut down.[14]

Energy balance as per the Specifications[edit]

Energy balance.png

The total energy needed to operate the ferry for 5.5 hours is 110 kWh (20 kW is average power). 1 kW solar panels produce 4 kWh of energy per day, factoring the system efficiency and standard sun of the location of 5.72 (average throughout the year). Hence the energy from solar panels is 80 kWh. The gap in energy is provided by lithium battery that can provide up to 40 kWh (80% discharge) from a total capacity of 50 kWh. The lithium batteries are fully charged in the morning because of overnight grid charging.[19]

A trip between the two boat points takes 15 minutes and it needs energy of 5 kWh. Hence a total of 22 trips can be made daily transporting 1,650 people daily, or 580,000 people every year without burning fuel.

Trips on average sunny day: 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM (running hours 5.5 hours)

The below table describes the 22 trips in each column, and for each trip the start time and end time. It also list the break time at the end of each trip. In non-peak hours this is about 15 minutes, in peak time it is 10 minutes and around noon it is two hours. The energy from sun is cumulative at the end of the period and for an average sunny day it is about 72 kWh from 18 kW panels (the rest is for auxiliary systems and charges a different battery bank). The battery state of charge (SOC) is shown at the beginning of trip and end of trip. At the end of the day, the battery has about 20% charge left. The energy use can be further optimised by adding one more trip (5 kWh usage) so that end of day battery SOC can be 10%.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22
Vaikom 7:00 7:45 8:00 8:40 8:50 9:30 9:40 10:25 10:40 11:25 13:35 14:20 14:35 15:20 15:35 16:20 16:30 17:10 17:20 18:00 18:15 19:00
Thavanakadavu 7:15 7:30 8:15 8:25 9:05 9:15 9:55 10:10 10:55 11:10 13:50 14:05 14:50 15:05 15:50 16:05 16:45 16:55 17:35 17:45 18:30 18:45
Break 0:15 0:15 0:10 0:10 0:10 0:10 0:15 0:15 0:15 2:10 0:15 0:15 0:15 0:15 0:15 0:10 0:10 0:10 0:10 0:15 0:15
Total Time 0:30 0:30 0:25 0:25 0:25 0:25 0:30 0:30 0:30 2:25 0:30 0:30 0:30 0:30 0:30 0:25 0:25 0:25 0:25 0:30 0:30 0:15
Battery SOC (kWh) at start 50 45 40 35.5 31.7 28.8 26.5 25.5 25.2 25.5 26.1 49.3 49.3 48.7 47.3 45 41.4 35.1 27.1 22.1 22.1 17.1
Sun Production (kWh) 0 0 0.5 1.7 3.8 6.5 10.5 15.2 20.5 26.1 54.3 59.3 63.7 67.3 70 71.4 72.1 72.1 72.1 72.1 72.1 72.1
Motor consumption (kWh) 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 100 105 110
Battery SOC (kWh) at end 45 40 35.2 31.1 27.9 25.3 23.4 22.8 22.8 23.3 24.1 46.8 46.6 45.6 43.8 40.9 36.9 32.1 27.1 22.1 17.1 12.1

On a bright sunny day, the no. of trips can be increased by taking trips during 11:55 to 14:05 break. About four more trips can be made in this period.

On a cloudy day, the no. of trips is reduced and the break time is increased. If it is very cloudy in the break time, then shore charging can be done. This is a 32A charger and charges at 7 kW. Hence in the three hour break, it can charge battery by 21 kWh.

Pay-back period[edit]

Compared to a conventional boat powered by diesel with same functional features and safety standards which costs 231,000 US$, the solar ferry costs 370,000 US$. An efficient conventional boat consumes 120 litres per day (12 litres per hour), or 3,500 litres per month and 42,000 litres per year of diesel. This amounts to 39,000 US$ for diesel (@ 0.93 US$/litre) and total operating costs including lube oil and other maintenance costs amounts to 44,600 US$ per year.

The operating cost of solar ferry is 40 units of electricity or 6.2 US$ per day which amounts to 185 US$ per month and 2,150 US$ per year.

The pay-back period is under three years.[19]

The Government of India under the leadership of Prime Minister, Sri. Narendra Modi is very supportive of the project and the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has also agreed to sponsor the project considering that this is a first of its kind in India. The benefit of sponsorship would mean that Kerala State Water Transport Department would get the boat at almost free of cost. In this scenario the boat is cheaper than conventional boat and they would start saving money from day one.[19][22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Technical Data Sheet". NavAlt. Archived from the original on 5 July 2010.
  2. ^ a b c "India's first solar boat launched in Kochi". 13 January 2017. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d "First solar ferry ride a success". Deccan Chronicle. 26 November 2016. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
  4. ^ "Kerala Govt. Commissions India's First Solar-Powered Boat, Paves the Way for a Greener Tomorrow". The Better India. 11 May 2016. Retrieved 24 May 2016.
  5. ^ "Kerala company builds country's largest solar ferry". timesofindia-economictimes. 22 April 2016. Retrieved 24 May 2016.
  6. ^ a b NavAlt Solar and Electric Boats
  7. ^ Navgathi Marine Design and Constructions
  8. ^ Alternative Energies
  9. ^ EVE Systems
  10. ^ a b "India's first solar boat 'Aditya' successfully completes 150 days of voyage". Deccan Chronicle. 15 June 2017. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  11. ^ "Economics of ADITYA – India's First Solar Ferry" (PDF). IEEE India Info. 13 (3). July – September 2018.
  12. ^ "ADITYA – 150 Days of Service; and Surprise!". Sandith Thandasherry. 13 June 2017. Retrieved 5 December 2017.
  13. ^ "ADITYA - Sixty days of Operation". 25 March 2017. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  14. ^ a b "Solar ferry undergoes successful trials". The Hindu. 20 November 2016. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  15. ^ "Commuters, get ready for more sun-kissed rides on the waters". New Indian Express. 26 November 2016. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
  16. ^ Navgathi
  17. ^ AltEn
  18. ^ "NavAlt Spreading Ripples of Eco-friendliness". Destination Kerala. Retrieved 10 July 2016.
  19. ^ a b c d e f g "Solar Today - India's first magazine dedicated to the emerging Solar industry". Retrieved 3 July 2016.
  20. ^ "Indian Express".
  21. ^ TK, Sreeraj. "Kerala's Backwaters Will Soon Have India's First Solar Powered Boats". ScoopWhoop. Retrieved 24 May 2016.
  22. ^ a b "Solar-powered ferry to debut in sunlit Kerala". India Climate Dialogue. 30 May 2016. Retrieved 3 July 2016.

External links[edit]