Indian Navy’s Sarvekshak becomes first solar powered warship

For the first time in India, an Indian Navy warship has been fitted with solar panels that power the vessel’s lighting and communication equipment needs when on sail.

India’s survey class vessel – INS Sarvekshak – has been installed with 18 sheets of flexible, rust-free solar panels atop the ship’s hangar. This makes the INS Sarvekshak not only the country’s, but probably the world’s first solar powered warship.

It took about six months for the entire solar panel installation on the warship.

There are 300-Watt panels on the ship’s hangar, which can generate 5.4KW power. According to sources, this clean power is good enough to offset about 165kg of carbon a day i.e about 62,266kg of carbon annually.

Currently, there are only 10 batteries onboard for storage on INS Sarvekshak, attached with the Southern Naval command. The Navy is therefore only using the solar power for lighting and for running a few air conditioners while sailing. When the Sarvekshak is anchored, electricity is sourced from the main power grid.

Successful launch of the pollution free solar powered warship is a landmark occasion in India’s journey in the use of solar power.

Conventional warships are powered by diesel, which releases humongous amount of carbon into the atmosphere. The CO2 emission pose a great threat to the ecosystem. Additionally, occasional oil spills are harmful for the water bodies and the aquatic ecosystem.

A solar powered warship on the other hand, makes no noise (as opposed to a diesel-powered ship), creates no pollution and has no chance of oil spills that cause harm to the aquatic environment.

The biggest challenges faced in installation of solar panels on the INS Sarvekshak were:

  • Possible damage to solar panels from humidity and saline water
  • Possible damage to solar panels from high wind speed

For this, the ship was fitted with solar panels with anti-rust properties. The solar panels are marine compatible, and can function properly in humid environment and can withstand splashes of saline water.

Moreover, the solar panels are flexible and can be easily installed on curved surface. Being flexible, the panels can withstand high wind speeds too.

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