We're so grateful to BenQ Solar. They have given us a veritable farm of six solar panels, 240 watts each, for almost a total peak of 1.5kW in free energy from the sun! We are going to weld up a steel pipe frame above the flybridge control station, and these panels will do double duty as a canopy too. Because the panels will lie flat away from most shadows on Thunderbird 2 in a region (South China Sea) where there is lots of sunlight, we can expect reliable solar power.
To put this in perspective, let's examine what this will enable us to do. Suppose we get an average of about 50% capacity over 8 hours a day (because of mast shadows, angle of sunlight etc.), we should see 240 * 6 *8 / 2 = 5.76 kW.hours/day. The boat's daily anchor-out communications, refrigeration and lighting should average about 2 kW.hr/day leaving 3.76 for a watermaker during a disaster relief mission.
A rough estimate of a high output reverse osmosis watermaker's power consumption is about 15 watt.hrs per gallon, for 3760/15= 250 gallons per day.
That means by sunlight alone, without having to start up a diesel-guzzling generator, we will be able to provide enough perfectly clean drinking water to keep 1,000 people alive.
This is a huge deal!
After disasters, one of the biggest hazards comes from drinking dirty water, and very often survivors have no choice. International Rescue Group plans to have a watermaker aboard every boat, but we won't stop there - we will take water filters to shore as well, so that people can learn to clean whatever water they can find onshore even after IRG has departed for other missions.