Local Mekong farmers create solar power boat

Mekong river boats

The ingenuity of some local Vietnamese farmers may lead to a tremendous environmental change in the type of river traffic in the Mekong delta. They have developed a solar-powered boat, and now the local authorities are looking to develop more to serve the larger community.

Four men from Tam Nong district in Vietnam were labelled as local “crazy men” for trying to build their own solar-powered boats, but their creation can operate at 20 kilometres per hour and has enough power to continue running for up to three hours after sunset.

The boats could be key in serving the growing popularity of Mekong river cruises and tourism. Environmentally friendly transportation solutions would be a win-win for locals and tourists alike.

In technical terms, the boat is simple. It has two panels to receive solar power, two batteries to store the power, and an engine with five forward gears and two gears for reverse. The farmers are proud of the fact that their boat can operate without making any noise and pollution. Passengers and tourists can enjoy the river, not listen to engines when travelling down the river.

The nearby Tram Chim National Park has contacted the four farmers turned transportation engineers to place an order for them to build more boats. They are hoping to have the boats for the Dong Thap tourism period in September.

Using transportation that is silent or makes very little noise is very important to Tram Chim, as park management are concerned about maintaining its diverse wildlife population – especially its wild birds.

“Besides the solar-powered boats, we will use electric cars and other environmentally-friendly means of transportation to serve tourists during the tourism day,” said Le Hoang Long, the director of a tourism center at Tram Chim in talking to local media.

“We will try to leave the slightest impact on the birds here.”

Image Credit: Mario Micklisch (flickr.com)