PlanetSolar, a 31m-long motorboat powered entirely by the sun, is set to embark on a circumnavigation in 2011

PlanetSolar, a futuristic multihull motorboat designed to circumnavigate the globe using solar power alone, was unveiled today (26 February).

She was designed by PlanetSolar and built by Knierim Yacht Club in Kiel, and with an overall length of 31m and a beam of 16m is claimed to be the largest solar-powered boat in the world.

500 sq m of solar panels cover almost all the upper surfaces of the boat, which, together with her wave piercing technology, should enable her to navigate around the world at an average speed of 8 knots.

Seatrials are expected to begin in late March, and she is scheduled to make her 40,000km voyage around the world, piloted by a two man crew, in 2011.

Her voyage will begin and end in the Mediterranean, taking her westwards across the Atlantic, through the Panama Canal, across the Pacific and Indian oceans, returning to the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal.

Up to 50 people at a time will be allowed aboard PlanetSolar during promotional trips planned at each port of call.