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The river Charente in western France is navigable over a distance of 164km from its mouth to the city of Angoulême. River cruise operator Pascal Duc, who needs to replace his current boat, the Bernard de Palissy II and has long promoted the Charente’s attractions, has decided on a highly innovative all-solar-powered design that will not use any fossil fuel at all. “I want a low-energy boat that will be environment friendly and in tune with the Charente valley’s wonderful natural setting”, says Pascal. The Bernard de Palissy III will be emission free, extremely quiet, and environment friendly at all times, including during battery recharging. The Delavergne boatyard in the Vendée to the north has begun work with a view to delivery in time for the 2018 cruising season.


173909 Bernard de palissy fluvial

The Bernard de Palissy III (computer graphic) © Ship-ST

173908 Bernard de palissy fluvial

The Bernard de Palissy III (computer graphic) © Ship-ST


The operator and boatyard are working closely with Lorient-based naval architecture bureau Ship-ST for the general design and Alt-En for the electric propulsion system. The Bernard de Palissy III will be 24.65 metres long with a beam of 6.30m and a draught of 0.45m. It will have an aluminium hull, carry 149 passengers and 8 to 10 bicycles, and cruise at between 9 and 13kph.

The power system will use recyclable non-inflammable lithium-iron-phosphate (LiFePO4 or LFP) batteries giving the two 36-kW motors an endurance of 7.5 hours. On average, the boat will spend 9.5 hours cruising per day. The cost is estimated at €1.2 million, of which 5% will be for the motors and 13% for the batteries.


Original by Caroline Britz, translated and adapted by Steve Dyson


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Construction navale