Solar-powered catamarans sail on the island of Mljet

February 13, 2022 – The iCat company is known for innovating in maritime navigation technology, seeking to connect the mainland to the islands in a fast, efficient and environmentally friendly way. This can already be seen on the island of Mljet, which now has three of its solar-powered catamarans.

Solar energy is the engine of the ships that Tomislav Uroda from Zagreb wants to make this type of transport greener, faster and more comfortable, and his autonomous ships have been successful on Mljet for several years, reports Index.hr.

Frustration with Tomislav Uroda’s very rare and poor inter-island shipping prompted him to try to find a solution to this maritime problem in his own workshop. The idea that a larger ship sails several smaller ships per day, which will also be energy efficient and acceptable for Europe’s future in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, combating climate change and investing in green technologies, has become an international success story.

“We wanted a better, more luxurious alternative”

At that time, the young mechanical and shipbuilding engineer, originally from Zagreb and originally from the island of Murter, started his company ten years ago by founding iCat, and in the years that followed he held alongside the world’s leading innovators. He sees it as an opportunity to conquer the market for solar and electric ships.

“From the start, we did not want to invent a cheap product, but we wanted a better, more luxurious version of this maritime transport, and therefore not only in the passenger, economic part, but also in the technical part – of the accumulation, from batteries to solar,” says Uroda.

Connecting the island to the mainland, making sea transport a faster and more comfortable means of transport and overcoming the problem of fuel shortages on the island were key issues in Mljet National Park, where the first three catamarans to solar energy. These three vessels named babyCat, powered by solar panels on the roof of the vessel, are the first autonomous vessels of this type in the world. They develop a speed of no more than 9.5 knots and receive 54 passengers. Excess solar energy is stored in onboard batteries.

The boat can be recharged

“The solar-powered catamarans also have shore chargers, which means they can be recharged from the shore port. This replenishment is a good option, and Mljet’s ships have been sailing for several years during the summer months and there never needed it to recharge because enough energy is obtained from solar energy,” the 50-year-old said.

The island of Mljet (Photo: Mario Romulić)

“We built another catamaran of this type, but it had only just been finished at the time of the general shutdown. Just as air and bus transport disappeared, so did ours. In the few months of this pandemic, it there was no interest in our ships, but we’ve been getting inquiries every day for some time,” says Tomislav, who plans to market his products throughout Europe and then, when conditions are right, globally. whole.

In addition to the solarCat ship, as presented in Jarun, on the same production platform it is possible to build two other types of solar-powered catamarans – one slightly wider, which will have a hundred seats and the another with a double bow, or a vessel that does not turn while driving but travels shorter distances.

“We realized that this job is not attractive”

“Labour is also a big issue,” says Uroda.

“We dreamed of having our own workers in the production plant, but over time we realized that this work is not attractive and people come and go here. Croatia no longer has workforce. We are aware of the situation, but our development the team is constant,” stressed Uroda.

Greater use of the potential of solar energy is one of the main objectives of the European Green Plan, which aims to reduce carbon emissions by 55% by 2030. The intensive use of renewable energy sources and increasing energy efficiency are key factors in achieving this ambition.

Ambitions in Croatia must be encouraged and citizens must be educated on the benefits of using solar energy, concluded a two-day “Days of the Sun” conference held at the end of October this year last in Hvar. The solar sector is growing very slowly, although the price of this energy is lower than ever, the meeting was told.

For more information on iCat’s solar-powered catamarans, click here.

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