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PlanetSolar catamaran beckons sun and sea (photos)

The big solar-powered catamaran, toting 38,000 solar cells, is headed for a round-the-world tour starting in early 2011.

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Dong Ngo

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PlanetSolar's solar-powered catamaran

When the sun shines on this big catamaran, don't go looking for passengers lounging on deck chairs. All that sunlight will be going into the boat's 38,000 or so solar cells.

The catamaran is the focus of the PlanetSolar project, which aims to take the boat on a round-the-world cruise starting in early 2011. The photo here is from its coming-out party Thursday at the HDW Shipyard in Germany.

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The PlanetSolar boat is a multihull white catamaran topped by about 5,300 square feet of photovoltaic solar panels comprising 38,000 of SunPower's solar cells, the efficiency of which is an impressive 22 percent.
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These two proud gents are Raphael Domjan (right), skipper of the boat and head of the PlanetSolar project, and co-skipper Gerard d'Aboville.
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Here's a closer look at the boat's bridge and some of its solar panels.

The remaining images in this slideshow present computer-generated views of the PlanetSolar boat, and photos of the craft under construction.

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