Home / News / A Canadian heritage vessel is now North America's largest solar

A Canadian heritage vessel is now North America's largest solar

Dec 28, 2023Dec 28, 2023

Ride Solar

By subscribing, you agree to our Terms of Use and Policies You may unsubscribe at any time.

A 55-year-old Canadian heritage vessel has been resurrected by a tour company, offering a completely rebuilt & retrofit electric model powered by solar energy. Originally a "Vaporetto" from the famous 1967 Montreal Expo, the renewed iteration by a Canadian firm named Ride Solar is touted as "North America's largest solar-powered boat".

According to New Atlas, the ferry was first used in 1967 for the Montreal Expo to transport passengers for the Category One World's Fair. In the 1970s, it was used for operations in the Charlottetown Harbour and the West River, moving to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in the 80s. The founders of Ride Solar acquired the decommissioned vessel in 2015 from Shediac.

The vessel, Islola Solaretto, found a second lease of life after the firm's Kickstarter campaign to renovate the ferry failed to take off in 2019. After four years, the model is set to enter service offering tours of the beautiful Charlottetown Harbour.

Ride Solar

The team at Ride Solar had to do extensive work that saw it just retaining its 40-ft (11.66-m) fiberglass hull, replacing the archaic diesel motor, and adding a fiberglass cabin to keep the curb weight in check.

A new electric motor and battery pack are now in place, and lightweight solar panels are installed on the roof to supplement charging requirements. The motor is rated at 20 kW, and the solar panels offer a total charging capacity of 6 kW. On a sunny day, the system can "drop the speed down to 1/4 throttle and putt around indefinitely on solar power alone," said Steve Arnold, co-founder of Ride Solar to New Atlas. The team has also installed secondary charging infrastructure on the shore to meet power demands for multiple trips.

With tourist trips in mind, items like tables for dining, a kitchen & bar, and lavatories are offered with the new Islola Solaretto. Furthermore, entertainment systems and Wi-Fi facilities also find their place inside the ferry now for added convenience.

The vessel offers 34 seats for passengers and space for four crew members and can provide a ride of up to two hours. The ship is expected to be put into service by mid-May, and the company plans to offer a "relaxing sunset dinner cruise or a midnight party cruise" to visitors.