Campus Life
Ride with the Hot Summer Sun
Cover Story
School Feature
Ties with High Schools
Ride with the Hot Summer Sun

The name of the world's largest solar-powered catamaran is "MS TÛRANOR PlanetSolar". "TÛRANOR" is inspired by JRR Tolkien's epic novel "The Lord of the Rings" and it means "Power of the Sun". The boat has been girdling the equator and gathering maximum amount of sunlight since September 2010 from Monaco.

After over 300 days on the sea, crossing the Atlantic and the Pacific, navigated through Miami, Cancun, Panama, Ecuador, Sydney, the Philippines and covered over 38,000 kilometers, PlanetSolar arrived Hong Kong, its only stop in China on August 18, 2011. The voyager and its 4-member crew sailed to the HKUST pier overlooking the Clear Water Bay and were welcomed by about 200 secondary and primary school students, university faculties and students.

The 31-metre-long, 7.5-metre-high catamaran at 90 tons on a record breaking marine expedition is covered in 500 square meters of photovoltaic solar panels (with 38,000 photovoltaic cells), silently turning sunlight to power.

Captain Erwann Le Rouzic and the crew shared with students, "even without direct sunlight, the battery in the hull store enough electricity to run the catamaran for up to 3-4 days."

"PlanetSolar sails without traditional fuels and we've successfully reached Hong Kong via the South China Sea (The Philippines). It proves operating a boat solely using solar power is possible." Besides, "it's environmental friendly, it sails quietly and it's pollution free!"

PlanetSolar's round-the-globe mission is to promote sustainable and renewable energy development, replacing traditional fuels with solar energy. It will be visiting more ports after Hong Kong and a further 22,000 kilometres to cover before it ends the tour in Portugal in May, 2012.

Planet Solar Summer Sustainable Day@HKUST

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) employs the presence of TÛRANOR PlanetSolar to promote sustainable and renewable energy development. Organized by the UST Division of Environment and Institute for the Environment, the "Planet Solar Summer Sustainable Day@HKUST" host a series of sharing, seminar sessions and site visits for students and introduce the potential of solar energy and promote environmentally sustainable behavior.
What, besides sorting and recycling wastes, use less water and electricity, can we do to reduce our carbon footprints?

Low Carbon Diet

200 participants of the Sustainable Day@UST enjoyed a delicious "Low Carbon Lunch", the menu and recipe was designed by UST Year 3 Electricity Engineering students Lam Ka-wo and Matthew Mak. The two shared with us the 4 requirements of a "low carbon meal" -

  • With more vegetable than meat (while plants absorb CO2 during growing stage, animals on the other hand emit CO2e only when growing up).
  • With seasonal and local food (to minimize the CO2e emitted from transportation / extra fertilizers used)
  • With right portion - eat just enough (to reduce the waste)
  • Buy ready-made food with minimum packaging

Choosing the right way to prepare food also helps reducing carbon footprint. "Stir fry saves more energy than steam or stew and the shorter the cooking time the less energy consumes," said Lam Ka-wo.  Lam gave us more tips on reducing carbon footprint, "We may save more energy by having the right diet than switching off light when not using."

Zero Waste Workshop

Hong Kong produces over 13,000 tons of waste per day. Much of which, e.g. plastic container, clothes, magazine rags, aluminium cans and promotional leaflets, can be recycled. Students participated in the "Zero Waste Workshop" learn how to distinguish what could be recycled and how to achieve zero waste.

You, yes, YOU! Can generate electricity!

Solar-powered catamaran is travelling around the world. How about using some of the solar energy for our day-to-day life? Or better still, can we generate electricity ourselves?

Over 120 university, secondary and primary students participated in a "Solar Model Building + Electricity Bike Competition" led by Year 3 Electrical Engineering students - Lam Ka Wo and Mak Tsz Him, and Year 2 students Wong Sui Lam and Lau Ho Fat.

The participants teamed up in 40 groups of three. Each team used solar panels and wires to build a solar windmill model. After that each team would send one student to ride a bike. The kinetic energy produced would turn into electricity to light a bulb. This whole model building, bike-riding and bulb lighting were to be completed within 20 mins. Cheers and shouts magnified an exciting competition. The first 10 teams finishing the game were awarded multipurpose solar kits (with 5 variations - solar airboat, solar car, solar dog, solar plane and solar revolving plane).

Visit and explore

Students visited various sustainable facilities and a vast number of advanced real-time instruments and samplers at the HKUST campus (e.g. HK’s first Air Quality Supersite and Mobile Air-Monitoring Platform). Students learnt how the supersite project helps advancing our understanding of air pollution in Hong Kong and contributes to the development of environmental policy. Participants also visited HKUST Coastal Marine Laboratory and were briefed on the urgent state of our ocean, ecosystem of the ocean and marine habitat. Some had the rare opportunity to touch star fish - for the first time in their life. 


Please visit