Orkney develops solar-powered boat for Philippines

The Aldao Azul was launched in Palawan in the Philippines

An Orkney company has helped to build a solar-powered version of a "banca" boat which has been launched in the Philippines.

The traditional vessels are typically made of wood and powered by a diesel engine.

But Stromness-based Aquatera said this was the first of its kind to be powered by renewables.

The banca forms the backbone of coastal communities in the Philippines, providing lifeline sources of food, water, and livelihoods through tourism and fishing.

The new vessel, named the Aldao Azul, was launched earlier this month in Coron, Palawan in the Philippines.

It can carry six passengers and two crew and travel up to five hours with a maximum speed of 11 knots.

It has a cold-storage facility for the delivery of perishable goods and temperature-sensitive commodities, such as vaccines, to remote communities.

It was built by renewables firm Aquatera in partnership with Philippines-based OceanPixel under parent company Oceantra.

'Tremendous job'

Ian Hutchison, director of Oceantera, said: “It’s fantastic to be able to bring our partnership’s collective expertise in sustainable energy systems to support island communities around the world to decarbonise.

"The Oceantera team in the Philippines have done a tremendous job in delivering this technology into the local market.

"Through this initiative, we plan to work with local businesses, communities, and partners to help establish fossil-fuel-free transportation networks across the Philippines and wider South East Asia.”

The scheme is part of the Renewable Energy-Powered Marine Transport for Island Communities project, funded by the United States Agency for International Development

It aims to develop retrofit kits which can be used to replace traditional diesel-powered engines in existing outriggers and in new-builds.