World's largest solar-powered catamaran sails into HKLocal | 25 Oct 2019 6:20 pm
Hong Kong is hosting the world's largest solar-powered catamaran, which is about halfway through its five-year journey around the globe raising awareness about the impact of marine plastic pollution.
The 114-foot long vessel is covered in 512 square meters of solar panels. But it can also convert sea water into hydrogen, to create electricity, and a huge kite can also be released to tow the boat behind it.
It is more than two years since they started from Lorient, France in April 2017 and had touched places like Bermuda, Lima, Easter Island, Fiji and Indonesia before making their 22 port call in Hong Kong
During their journey, the crew had been getting a close look at how plastic waste is polluting our seas, beaches and marine life.
They say there are no big islands of plastic in the open ocean – it's more like a soup, which is much worse.
“The reality is something more invisible, and that's also why people think there is no emergency because at sea you don't really see it,” said Camille Rollin, Race for Water Act Programme Manager.
“At the end, the plastic almost doesn't disappear. It just degrades, degrades, degrades into more small pieces, but it's still plastic with chemicals inside so it's still really toxic,” she said.
She told RTHK's Richard Pyne that the solution to this widespread problem is reducing our consumption and dependence on plastics.
“There is also a big need for the plastic industry and brands to concretely rethink the material, and start using less dangerous chemicals and start to be more transparent about how they produce this plastic,” she said. “That also implies regulations from government, so this is work in progress but it's urgent to know more.”
To tackle the problem of the vast amounts of plastic already in circulation, Rollin said they're developing a means to convert plastic waste into energy.
“Now, we're working on various projects to implement this machine in islands or coastal cities,” she said. “The idea is to create with the street-pickers and households to incentivise them to collect plastic and this machine would allow to transform this into electricity.”
While Race for Water is in Hong Kong, they plan to welcome aboard more than 1,500 visitors, including schoolchildren, for educational tours of the boat and the work they do.
The vessel will leave Hong Kong on November 9.-Photo: RTHK